MILLEDGEVILLE — When Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery Director Russell Feagin approved the Milledgeville Garden Club Council’s Blue Star Marker request, the beginning of a first-class dedication project was under way and continues to stretch further than anyone could have imagined.
The Blue Star Memorial ceremony held last November recently received a first place award from the Garden Club of Georgia in the category of Blue Star Memorial for Garden Club Councils.
“We were excited to know we won,” said president of the Old Capital Garden Club Ellen Goodrich. “It was nice to see that all the hard work we put into the project was recognized and appreciated.”
The purpose of the awards program is to recognize the achievement of an individual, a club or group of clubs, which further the goals and objectives of the Garden Club of Georgia, the Deep South Region and National Garden Clubs. The award was presented April 17 during the Garden Club of Georgia’s annual convention and awards ceremony.
“We submitted our application in to the committee by December of 2012, but we had no idea we’d get first place,” Goodrich said. According to Goodrich, the submission process, which used to include a 12-page application, is now done electronically and reduced to three pages.
“It’s hard to try to figure out just what information and pictures you want to use in those three pages, when everything you have is important in explaining the significance of the project.”
The Blue Star Memorial Program stems from World War II. Its purpose is to honor service men and women who have served, serving or will be serving in the armed services of the United States.
During World War II citizens honored family service members by hanging flags featuring blue stars outside of homes and business establishments. The main objective of was to honor and recognize the courage and bravery exhibited by the soldiers and the sacrifice they made for their country.
In an attempt to honor service men and women with a living memorial, the Garden Club of New Jersey planted 1,000 dogwood trees on a five-mile stretch of highway, which was designated as Blue Star Drive. In 1945, the National Council of State Garden Clubs (now National Garden Clubs Inc.) adopted the program started in New Jersey and began a Blue Star Highway system, which covers thousands of miles across the Continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii.
“Georgia garden clubs have been especially active in recent years in an effort to raise funds to erect Blue Star Markers throughout our state to honor our military personnel,” said Garden Club of Georgia Blue Star Memorial Marker Chairman Janice Thiese.
According to Thiese, nationwide locations total 2,500 and Georgia features 142, placing the state third behind California and Florida.
On Nov. 2, 2012, the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery was presented with the most recent Blue Star Memorial Marker by the Milledgeville Garden Club Council.
The local 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.
The marker near the cemetery joins one other Baldwin County Blue Star highway marker near Exchange Bank on Highway 441.
“We felt that it was important to have a visible reminder of the sacrifice our veterans and active military service men and women make for us,” Goodrich said.
Goodrich has decided to give the first place certificate to Nancy Hartley, president of the Milledgeville Garden Club Council at the time of the dedication.
“She put a lot of time and effort into the program and I think it’s only right that the certificate be in her possession,” Goodrich said.
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