11/17/13 — Blue Star marker to honor veterans

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Blue Star marker to honor veterans

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 17, 2013 1:50 AM

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The marker that will be placed on U.S. 70 East just past the Spence Avenue overhead bridge

The public is invited to a dedication ceremony Wednesday morning for Wayne County's first Blue Star Memorial highway marker, which pays tribute to veterans and members of the country's armed forces.

The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at the Ruby Tuesday parking lot. A reception will follow at Comfort Suites.

The memorial marker and dedication ceremony are being sponsored by the Evergreen Garden Club.

The marker reads, "Blue Star Memorial Highway. A tribute to the Armed Forces that have defended the United States of America. Sponsored by the Evergreen Garden Club, Citizens and Veterans of Wayne County in cooperation with The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc."

It will be on display at the event and will be installed at its permanent location on U.S. 70 East, just past the Spence Avenue overhead bridge, following the ceremony.

The Blue Star Memorial Highway program was created by the National Garden Clubs in 1946 to pay tribute to the members of the armed forces who serve or have served in war or periods of hostilities.

The blue star was first used on service flags to denote that a family had someone in the military fighting during a war -- one star for each family member serving.

The project has since spread across the country, and the markers can be found throughout North Carolina.

Evergreen Garden Club members launched a campaign last spring after realizing that Wayne County did not have one of the markers, even though it is home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and numerous retired veterans.

"They have been put up since 1946, so we decided that it was high time for Wayne County to have one," Evergreen Garden Club Vice President Betty Slowinski said.

And as the club raised funds to collect the $1,365 needed for the marker, the project gained the support of local veterans and other groups throughout the community.

"It was excellent," she said. "We are excited to just have had Veterans Day one week and now this," Mrs. Slowinski said. "We are so happy to have the Department of Transportation work as a partner with us."

The marker originally was to have been located higher up on the Spence Avenue Exit on U.S. 70 headed west. The DOT decided the better location is on U.S. 70 headed east just past the overhead bridge.

"They (DOT officials) decided for the sign to be more visible it needed to be in the flower bed," Mrs. Slowinski said. "They will double the size of the bed. The garden club was going to put in seven red knockout roses, but they (DOT) will put in 36 instead. It will be very pretty. I think it will be very showy.

"It is an excellent location. The sign will be visible from both sides."

It is also convenient for people to read the sign and have their photos taken with it, she said.