Blue Star Memorial Marker Unveiling

(Dobson, N.C.) – A Blue Star Memorial Marker, honoring men and women that serve in the United States Armed Services, will be unveiled at a ceremony in Dobson on Friday, September 10. The ceremony will be held, with light refreshments served, at 10 a.m. on the Historic Courthouse lawn, 114 W. Atkins St. The marker is located along Kapp Street.

The memorial dedication event is sponsored by the Surry County Board of Commissioners and Modern Gardeners Garden Club. Surry County Board Chairman Mark Marion; Mount Airy Commissioner Steve Yokeley; County Manager Chris Knopf; County Veterans Affairs Director Mike Scott; Mrs. Paula Hartman, North Carolina Blue Star Memorial Chairman; retired and former members of the military; and members of the Modern Gardeners Garden Club will speak. Many other elected officials and local VIPs have been invited to participate. Military affiliated honor guards will present and retire colors, ceremonially fold the American flag and participate in the program.

Sept. 10 was chosen as the event date, as it falls one day before the 20th Anniversary of 9/11.

The public is invited to attend so that they may honor United States Armed Services members.

“We are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world thanks to the service and sacrifice of the military,” County Board Chairman Mark Marion said. “The Blue Star Memorial Marker Unveiling is a great way to honor members of the United States Armed Services and we are very happy to have the marker on the Historic Courthouse grounds in Dobson. Surry County thanks the Modern Gardeners Garden Club and everyone who brought this marker to Dobson and made this event possible.”

More information about the Blue Star Memorial Marker is below.        

ABOUT THE BLUE STAR MEMORIAL MARKER

Since World War I, a Blue Star Banner displayed in the front window of a home told others that a family member was serving in the Armed Forces. Captain Robert B. Quiesser, an Ohio National Guard veteran of the Mexican Border, (1916) is credited with designing the original flag. In 1917, the Congressional Record stated, “The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother...their children.”

Also known as the Service Flag, the blue stands for hope and pride. When service members lost their lives, the blue star was replaced with a gold one representing the sacrifice. A silver star stood for someone incapacitated at home from the wounds sustained overseas.

The flag made its appearance again in World War II. On October 17, 1943, Congress authorized this flag that was approved as an official design.

Although the service flags virtually vanished during the Korean and Vietnam wars, they appeared again during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the Iraq War and the War on Terror.

At the close of World War II, National Garden Clubs (called National Council of State Garden Clubs at the time), like other public-spirited groups, were seeking a suitable means of honoring our service men and women. Garden Club members visualized a living memorial, preferring to help beautify and preserve the country these men and women had fought for, rather than build stone monuments in their honor.

In 1944, Mrs. Lewis M. Hull, Garden Club of New Jersey President and future National Council of State Garden Clubs (NCSGC) President, and Mrs. Vance Hood, Roadside Chairman, had an inspired idea. One thousand flowering Dogwood trees would be planted along five miles of highway, that had been designated the Blue Star Drive by the Legislature. No billboards were to be allowed on the memorial stretch. The project was named for the Blue Star in the service flag, which hung in windows of homes and businesses to honor service men and women.

The guest speaker at the 1945 National Council of State Garden Clubs Annual Meeting in New York City was Spencer Miller, New Jersey’s State Highway Commissioner, who had helped to implement the New Jersey project. He proposed that the program be adopted by NCSGC. At the 1945 Fall Semi-Annual Meeting, the project was approved. A “ribbon of living memorial plantings traversing every state,” called The Blue Star Memorial Highway Program, was adopted at the 1946 Annual Meeting in New Orleans. In 1947, Mrs. Frederick R. Kellogg (NCSGC President 1930-1933) designed a Marker that would identify the highways.

Clubs responded enthusiastically, with Rhode Island receiving the first endorsement. After official approval of the site, garden clubs would purchase Markers and planting materials. Highway Departments would plant and maintain the area. This was the first program undertaken by garden clubs on a national scale.

While it originally began to honor World War II veterans, it enlarged its mission in 1951 to include all men and women who had served, were serving or would serve in the Armed Forces of the United States.

The need for an extension of the program to accommodate other than dedicated highways became apparent. As a result, a smaller By-Way Marker, to be placed in areas such as parks, civic and historical grounds, was approved at the 1981 convention in Atlanta. This Marker was changed at the 1994 convention in Connecticut to be more descriptive by including the words “A tribute to the Armed Forces of America.”

Date: September 3, 2021

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