Toledo to become Blue Star Memorial siteWritten by Sanya Ali | | email@example.com
Blue Star Memorial Program organizers say they started with the idea that active and former servicemen and women deserve a tribute as massive as their commitment to this nation.
The National Garden Clubs (NGC), founder of the Blue Star Memorial Program, gives communities a permanent way to remember veterans.
Andrea Little, chairperson for the NGC, said the group’s objective is to ensure all service members receive the recognition they deserve, whether active, discharged or deceased.
“The goal of the program is to honor all our military service personnel: our past, those who have passed away, the present and our future armed forces who will continue to serve and protect the United States of America,” Little said.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Toledo Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), 1200 S. Detroit Ave., will host a dedication ceremony for the newest Blue Star Memorial on May 23 at VA Toledo.
Derek Atkinson, public affairs officer for the VA Ann Arbor Health System, the administration in charge of VA Toledo, said VA Ann Arbor is honored to receive this memorial plaque.
“So the blue star, it has been a kind of a cultural icon since World War II and before,” Atkinson said. “A blue star family is a family who has a loved one, typically a daughter or son, who are serving in the military.”
Blue Star Memorials began surfacing around 1944, when the NGC planted trees and other plants to honor Blue Star veterans. Since then, the program has expanded to include plaques for highways and smaller streets. Plaques range from 12 inches high on the byways to over seven feet tall on highways and in designated locations.
Little said over 26,000 Blue Star Memorials stand across the United States, and demand has increased with growing support for military families.
“It’s a wonderful program, and just recently there’s been a great urgency to honor all our military personnel,” Little said. “This program has been very much enhanced and is progressing beautifully.”
Little, an employee of NGC for two-and-a-half years, said she always holds the military in high esteem and thinks the program is a great way to respect the commitment and strength represented by the US military.
“I have attended several marker placement programs all over the U.S.,” Little said. “I am a military wife and my husband was a veteran of the Vietnam War, so our hearts are always dedicated to military service personnel.”
To have a Blue Star memorial dedicated, a local garden club must purchase and present the plaque to the location they choose. Anthony Wayne Garden Club donated this plaque, which will seal the status of the VA Ann Arbor Health System as a Blue Star Memorial holder.
“We were ecstatic to accept it and to add to our clinic and put it on the grounds because it is a way to honor our veterans,” Atkinson said.
The ceremony begins at 1 p.m., with the traditional performance of the military funeral “Taps” and a tribute by Lucas County Joint Services Color Guard. Master Sgt. Steve Kosinski of the United States Marine Corps will lead the Color Guard.
Also during the ceremony, Sylvania Senior Center Choir will perform a special armed forces medley. Attendees include representatives from congress, the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, the NCG and Mayor D. Michael Collins, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Atkinson said he hopes patients at VA Toledo will enjoy seeing the memorial by the flagpole at the entrance to the hospital. The space will also include benches with the seals of each military branch adorning them, donated by the local American Legion.
“They can go out to this area and just have a good moment of reflection and silence and also maybe meet with other veterans,” Atkinson said. “It adds to the overall environment of the VA.”
Atkinson said he feels proud to dedicate this memorial at the kickoff of Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s a piece of art,” Atkinson said. “It’s a way for us to honor and also remember our veterans, so Memorial Day was just a very fitting times.”
Little said awareness for the sacrifices troops make every day is crucial, and she hopes the memorials serve as a constant reminder of that sacrifice.
“I think what it means for us and for all of us is that we will stay strong in our dedication to our military personnel and that we will honor them not only Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, but every day,” Little said.
Tags: Andrea Little, Anthony Wayne Garden Club, Blue Star Memorial, Blue Star Memorial Program, D. Michael Collins, Derek Atkinson, Lucas County Joint Services Color Guard, National Garden Clubs, Sylvania Senior Center Choir, Toledo Community Based Outpatient Clinic, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA, Veterans Affairs