|The Blue Star Memorial marker.|
The Durham Council's 10 garden clubs contributed many resources in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and VA Medical Center for the memorial marker's installation, flower bed construction, dedication ceremony and reception.
The dedication ceremony program started promptly at 3 p.m. as did VA Center’s bell memorial chimes. Marcia Loudon, president of the Durham Council of Garden Clubs, presided over the 30-minute ceremony saying, “It is with great joy and gratitude that we are here today,” explaining the marker is in part a living memorial (with garden design) to honor of the men and women who currently serve and have served in the armed forces of America. Jackie Dale, GCNC Blue Star Memorial Chairman gave a short history of the Blue Star Memorial dating the first use of the star as a military honor since the time of Alexander the Great and continued throughout the United States history.
“George Washington presented medals for exceptional bravery with a blue star,” Dale said. Today’s modern Blue Star Memorial program was founded by the Garden Club of New Jersey in 1944, originally as a five-mile highway stretch of dogwood tree plantings. Garden Club members visualized a living memorial for veterans, preferring to help beautify and preserve the land, rather than building stone monuments for the vets. A metal sign was eventually adopted as a marker for the Blue Star Memorial program in 1946.
DeAnne Seekins, director for the Durham VA Medical Center accepted the sign on behalf of the VA Medical Center. Shelton Faircloth, an employee of the Center, presented a wreath of behalf of the Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn program. The Memorial marker unveiling was carried out by Derek Smith, NC DOT Roadside Environmental Engineer, and Pat Cashwell, GCNC DOT Chairman. VA Medical Center Chaplain Rev. Ryan Parker led the benediction of the sign.
After the dedication a reception was held in the VA Center’s canteen for guests, employees and veterans alike to celebrate and enjoy the historical event.
Flowers chosen by the Durham Council for the Blue Star Memorial marker's perennial bed include: Rosa red knockout roses, garden phlox, Erica × darleyensis 'Mediterranean white', Chinese fountain grass (Pennisetum Alopecuroides viridescens), Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies', Viburnum tinus 'Spring Bouquet', and daylilies interspersed with narcissus, and Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch'.