In the U.S., blue stars have long honored military service members. Now, Fenwick Island is getting its own Blue Star Byway marker, a plaque being installed at Fenwick Island Town Park.
After years of pursuing the memorial, the Barefoot Gardeners Club will host a dedication ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 1 p.m.
“It’s honoring all the military — anyone who’s ever served, will serve. We just thought it was something the club could do to recognize the military,” said BGC President Carol McCloud. “It’s just an amazing tribute to the armed forces.”
The marker (about 12 by 20 inches) was placed on a large stone, then laid in the garden, surrounded by shrubs and flowers.
The Barefoot Gardeners had previously planted a butterfly garden nearby.
“It takes a lot of legwork and approval to get it to happen. This has been six years in the making for us,” but it’s worth jumping through some hoops, McCloud said. “It is something garden clubs wanted to be part of, for the memorialization and the visualization.”
The park is located next to Fenwick Island Town Hall, at 800 Coastal Highway.
Anyone is welcome to attend the dedication ceremony, rain or shine. It will include a performance of “Taps,” an honor guard, local legislators, special guests, a wreath-laying and the five flags of the U.S. service branches.
“I’m getting chills just talking about it!” McCloud said.
This is the first memorial installation for the Barefoot Gardeners, although had previously been involved in planting a memory garden for families at Dover Air Force Base.
The Barefoot Gardeners Club has nearly 60 active members who meet monthly, from April to November.
“The Blue Star Memorial Program … began with the planting of 8,000 dogwood trees by the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs in 1944 as a living memorial to veterans of World War II,” according to the National Garden Clubs website. The National Council of State Garden Clubs jumped on board a year later, adding memorial markers to highways, cemeteries, parks and more.
Now, the Blue Star program honors all service members, past and present.
“It was named for the blue star of the service flag that was hung in all the homes and businesses,” McCloud explained. “And the blue stands for hope and pride.”