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Marker to history

A Blue Star Memorial Highway marker now greets motorists as they enter the Town of South Boston from the south on U.S. 501.

As markers to history, the Blue Star Memorial Highway program pays tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces, with the ubiquitous blue star prominently on each marker.

The National Council of State Garden Clubs, now known as National Garden Clubs, Inc., started the program in 1945, and the program has been expanded to include Memorial Markers and Memorial By-Ways.

Curious citizens may wonder about the origin or significance of the blue star on the marker.

A blue star is the focal point of service flags in the United States, which are displayed by family members of those serving their country in the Armed Forces.

U.S. Army Captain Robert L. Queisser designed the banner in 1917 to honor his two sons serving in World War I.

The flag or banner is defined as a white field with a red border, with a blue star for each family member serving in the Armed Forces of the United States during any war or hostilities in which the country is engaged.

A gold star represents a family member that died during service.

The flags were first used in the first World War, and they were standardized by the end of World War II.

Sadly, the use of the flags waned during the unpopular Vietnam War, but they have since come back into use on a more consistent basis.

There is no more appropriate or prominent place for a Blue Star Memorial Highway marker than where it stands now, at the entrance to a community that has given so much to protect our freedom, from the Race to the Dan in the Revolutionary War to the shores of Normandy on D-Day in World War II and since, in the cold hills of Korea and the steaming jungles of Vietnam.

In the hot deserts of the Middle East and the unforgiving mountains of Afghanistan, our sons and daughters continue to serve in a war against terror, which was tragically brought home to us 11 years ago in the 9-11 attacks.

Now, more than ever, we must not forget the sacrifices of servicemen and servicewomen, and the sacrifices of everyday citizens who keep a wary eye open to prevent such a monstrous attack from happening again.

Freedom does not come cheap, and we need to do everything we can never to forget freedom comes with a cost.