MILLEDGEVILLE — During World War II, citizens honored family service by hanging flags featuring blue stars outside of homes and businesses recognizing the ultimate sacrifice.
Shortly after the war ended, National Garden Clubs looked for a suitable way of honoring service men and women through a living memorial. The Garden Club of New Jersey planted 1,000 dogwood trees on a five-mile stretch of highway designated Blue Star Drive.
The National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted the Blue Star Memorial Highway Program in 1946. A former National Council president designed a marker representing the designated Blue Star area.
The program's mission expanded in 1951 to include all those who had served, were serving or would serve in the armed forces of the United States. Three types of markers include the Blue Star Memorial Highway Marker, smaller By-Way Marker for park type areas and a Blue Star Memorial Marker for veteran's cemeteries or administrative centers.
According to Garden Club of Georgia Blue Star Memorial Marker Chairman Janice Thiese, nationwide locations total 2,500, and Georgia features 142, placing the state third behind California and Florida.
The most recent Blue Star addition was officially dedicated Friday morning near the entrance of the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery on Vinson Highway. The Milledgeville Garden Club Council made the $1,350 purchase funded through joint programs.
Carrington Woods, Milledgeville, Town and Country and Old Capital garden clubs all supported the Blue Star idea.
Nancy Hartley, president of the Milledgeville Garden Club Council, said the marker represents people that come together to do something for the community.
“It's an extremely worthy thing to do,” Hartley said. “It's a way to honor our veterans.”
The marker near the cemetery joins one other Baldwin County Blue Star highway marker outside of Exchange Bank on Highway 441.
Hartley said the process ran smoothly through the state and then national garden club channels.