Colorful new memorial in downtown Eagle River honors the armed forces

Wednesday, June 19, 2019 - 12:55
  • Red, white and blue flowers were planted at the new Blue Star Memorial at Chief Alex Park in Eagle River. (Photo by Chris Wood)
  • A dedication ceremony for the new Blue Star Memorial sign in Eagle River will be held June 24 at Chief Alex Park. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • A Blue Star Memorial marker in Eagle River includes a large steel flower planter. A dedication ceremony for the memorial will be held June 24 at Chief Alex Park. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)

One of Alaska’s most vet-friendly towns now has a highly visible symbol of its support for the armed forces.

A joint effort of the local chamber of commerce, garden club and numerous service organizations raised more than $11,000 to bring a giant steel star and Blue Star Memorial sign to Chief Alex Park alongside the Old Glenn Highway. The 15-by-15-foot steel star was filled with red, white and blue flowers Tuesday.

“I think it’s going to look really cool,” said Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce executive director Debbie Rinckey in the days before the flowers went in.

The chamber takes care of Chief Alex Park, which is on land owned by Eklutna Inc. and managed by the local business organization. Rinckey said the project was spearheaded by the Greater Eagle River Garden Club, whose president, Chris Wood, said the Blue Star program is part of the national garden club movement and a way to recognize those who serve.

“It honors military past, present and future,” she said.

The star was designed by municipal park planner Maeve Nevins and built by Anchorage company STEELFAB. Funding help came from multiple groups, including the Chugiak-Eagle River Foundation and local chapters of the American Legion, Elks, Rotary, VFW and VFW Women’s Auxiliary.

Wood said the project also received guidance and support from Alaska Garden Club Blue Star chairs Jay and Marian Pound, both of whom are Air Force vets, as well as the National Garden Club Blue and Gold Star Memorial chair Andrea Little, a retired Marine.

The Blue Star program was started by the National Garden Clubs in the mid 1940s as a way to honor service men and women as World War II came to a close.

Wood said it’s fitting that Eagle River should have a Blue Star Memorial because the town — which borders Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson — has a long history of supporting the troops.

“We’re such a proud military town here,” she said. The marker includes a 7-foot sign that includes the words “A tribute to the Armed Forces who have defended the United States of America.”

Once the flowers are planted, the next step in the process will be to hold an official dedication ceremony. Rinckey said that event will be held June 24 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the park located off the Old Glenn near Eagle River Elementary School.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274

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