By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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A Blue Star Memorial plaque — honoring all military members, past, present and future — will be dedicated by members of the Port Angeles Garden Club.
Bernice Cook, chairwoman of the Blue Star Marker Committee, will serve as mistress of ceremonies and welcome special guest Brynn Tavasci, state Garden Club president.
Patty Wheatley, Garden Club president, will dedicate the marker, and Mayor Dan Di Guilio and Cory Delicat, director of the city Parks and Recreation Department, will accept the marker on behalf of the city.
The marker at the park next to the Clallam County Courthouse at 223 E. Fourth St. will be unveiled by retired Air Force Lt. Col. Mary Flo Bruce.
Members of American Legion Post 5 will provide a presentation of colors and will close the ceremony with the playing of the bugle call taps.
The ceremony will be followed by refreshments at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St.
The plaque was installed by city parks workers, and members of the Garden Club planted a red, white and blue primrose garden under the plaque that will be replaced with seasonal flowers throughout the growing season, Cook said.
The Garden Club has agreed to maintain the area immediately around the plaque and plans to keep the small flower garden fresh and seasonal.
“It is a special place and deserves something that looks like someone takes care of it, rather than just shrubs,” Cook said.
The Blue Star Memorial Program, a 70-year-old National Garden Clubs tradition honoring members of the armed forces and veterans, is an offshoot of an even older convention: the service banner.
Since 1917, the blue star has been used as a symbol of those who have a family member serving in the armed forces, active duty or reserves, during wartime.
Blue star service banners and flags, which feature a blue star on a white field with a red border, are regulated by the Army Institute of Heraldry.
They are approved for parents, siblings, spouses or children of military members, or for businesses and organizations with employees or members who serve.
Silver and gold
Banners have one star for each family member on active duty or in the reserves.
Silver star banners are for troops who were seriously injured. Gold star banners represent those who died while serving during a time of war.
The Blue Star Memorial Program began in 1944 when the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs planted 8,000 dogwood trees as a living memorial to veterans of World War II.
In 1945, the National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted the program and began the Blue Star Highway system — designating thousands of miles of roads across the country as Blue Star Highways over the next two decades.
The program later added memorial markers for national cemeteries, parks, veterans facilities and gardens.
The markers feature a large blue star and a Garden Clubs logo, and reads “In tribute to the Armed Forces that have defended the United States of America.”
Each marker is identical, except for a line to identify the name of the Garden Club chapter that placed it.
Veterans Memorial Park
Once known as Central Park, the grassy square next to the courthouse was renamed Veterans Memorial Park in 1986 to honor veterans, Delicat said.
The park is home to a 1976 replica of the Liberty Bell and several memorials dedicated to veterans, he said.
City records show the park was remodeled and rededicated in 1995, thanks to a donation by longtime Port Angeles police employee Margaret Vane Miller Hartness.
“The records stressed that she loved gardens. Between the Garden Club and the Blue Star Marker, this is a perfect fit,” Delicat said.
At 1 p.m. on the last Friday of each month, a bell-ringing memorial ceremony recognizes recently deceased Clallam County veterans.
The names of the deceased are read, their military background is noted, and the replica Liberty Bell is rung after each name.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.