IN THE GARDEN: What are Blue Star Memorials and why are they there?

Friday, June 2, 2017 - 11:31

Have you ever seen a Blue Star Memorial Marker and wondered what it was? Alaska has several and they are all associated with a garden.

The Blue Star Memorial Marker program was adopted in 1945 by the National Council of Garden Clubs to honor the men and women of the armed forces after WWII. This beautification program was the first taken on in 1944 with the planting of 8,000 Dogwood trees by the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs as a living memorial to veterans of World War II. In 1945, the National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted Highways and they were dedicated as Blue Star Memorial Highways with a marker surrounded by gardens along thousands of miles throughout the Continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. A large metal Blue Star Memorial Highway Marker was placed at appropriate locations along the way.

This national program was later expanded in 1951 to honor “all who have served, are serving, and will serve.” These memorial signs may be placed at veteran’s facilities, national cemeteries, parks, and other civic locations.

The Blue Star Memorial Program has been in existence for over 70 years and has a rich history. The history of this marker is well worth your time to research while too detailed to mention here.

Wanting to learn more about what this marker represented and the significance associated with the blue star, the history of the past was calling me to find out more. The history of the blue star was associated with the Blue Star Banner and this was displayed in the front window of a home that had a family member serving in the armed forces during WWII. Also known as the Service Flag, the blue star stands for hope and pride. When a service member lost their lives, the blue star was replaced with a gold one representing the sacrifice.

Garden clubs around the state have stepped up and planted, weeded, watered, and nurtured the gardens around these markers. In Anchorage, the Anchorage Garden Club cares for the marker garden at the split of Fifth and Sixth Avenue by the insurance company and Alaska Sales and Service. Each club member who participates takes a week or two in the summer and cares for the garden. The insurance company owns the water spigot and kindly provides the water and we bring our own hoses and tools.

In Alaska we have seven Blue Star Memorial Marker gardens. As you drive around the state, I hope you will take time to look for them and remember our soldiers sacrifice.

Here are the locations of Alaska’s Blue Star Garden Markers:

In Anchorage at the split of Fifth and Sixth Avenue. First dedicated on June 19, 1964 and then rededicated in 1984 by the Anchorage Garden Club.

In Fairbanks, at Week’s Field, dedicated May 30, 2002, with the original location at mile 344.2 about 20 miles west of Fairbanks. Fairbanks Garden Club.

In Juneau, dedicated June 1, 1990, at the public library triangle junction of South Franklin and Marine Highway. Juneau Garden Club.

In Ketchikan, dedicated June 4, 1974, at the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal. The Ketchikan Garden Club.

In Tok, dedicated August 15, 1973, at the visitors center, Jct. SR 1&2. The Fairbanks Garden Club.

In Wasilla, dedicated September 16, 2010, near Nelson Street, The Valley Garden Club.

At Anchor Point on the Sterling Highway, dedicated July 22, 1970. Placed by the Kenai Garden Club.

Mary Louise Michie, former National Garden Club’s President stated, “Each time a Blue Star Marker is dedicated, we show our love for this beautiful United States of America and our appreciation for the Armed Services of America.”

As we celebrate our brave men and women in uniform this Memorial Day, maybe you can think of a park that could be dedicated to our men and women who serve with a Blue Star Memorial Marker. Feel free to e-mail me at chriswood_ak@yahoo.com if you have any questions about this process. For more information you can go to the National Garden Club’s website to find out more about the history, applications and guidelines for the Blue Star Marker Memorial Gardens. WWW.gardenclubs.org

Alaska Invasive Alert: Weed them and reap!

Bird Vetch (Vicia cracca) Pea Family: This plant is all over Eagle River, especially along the loop road. A Perennial, Bird Vetch reproduces by seed and vegetatively by underground rhizomes. Bird Vetch aggressively climbs fences, trees, bushes, and steals sunlight, moisture and space. Vetch is a multiple branching, with vine-like stems and purple flowers arranged on a one-sided spike. This plant has small tendrils and it grabs as it climbs. This is trying to get into my yard and I am determined to keep it out. Don’t let it go to seed. Do not put in your compost pile.

Remember to “Keep calm and Garden on!”

Plant Sales

Tuesday May 23-26

Highland Correctional Facility plant sale 9-6 pm at parking lot, 9101 Hesterberg Rd. Eagle River.

Saturday May 27

Alaska Rock Garden Society plant sale, 9-4 pm at Snowfire Gardens, 3379 Inlet Vista Circle, Wasilla.

Valley Garden Club plant sale 9-3pm, at Boys and Girls Club, Bogard Road, Palmer.

Saturday June 3

Anchorage Garden Club plant sale, 9-5 pm Location and details at: www.alskagardenclubs.org/anchorageclub.htm.

Mat Su Master Gardener plant sale, 9-3 pm at Palmer Pavilion across from the Palmer Visitor Center.

Wildflower Club Plant Sale, 9-2 pm at, 7435 Old Harbor Rd, Anchorage.

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