A beautiful custom garden with specially chosen plantings and a small stone patio with a granite bench, now sits proudly in Bethel honoring those who served their country. It holds the 2-sided bronze plaque that reads, “A tribute to the Armed Forces who have defended the United States of America.”
Report by Paula Antolini
June 1, 2015 10:08 AM EDT
(Click on photos to view larger.)
Special Dedication Ceremony of Blue Star Memorial Marker and Garden in Bethel
A special ceremony took place on a sunny and warm day in Bethel, CT, on May 30, 2015, at 1:00 p.m., to dedicate a Blue Star Memorial Marker and Garden, located on Route 302 on an “island” where the road curves, between Bethel Cinema and Sycamore’s.
A beautiful custom garden with specially chosen plantings and a small stone patio with a granite bench, now sits proudly in Bethel honoring those who served their country. It holds the 2-sided bronze plaque that reads, “A tribute to the Armed Forces who have defended the United States of America” and “Sponsored by Bethel Garden Club 2015, in cooperation with Local organizations, businesses & residents, The Meserve Memorial Fund and The Town of Bethel,” with “National Garden Clubs Inc.” at the top. The marker is surrounded by bronze circular plaques at its base, representing the branches of military service.
The ceremony was beautiful and proud. Special speakers were Pastor Karen Cook, Bethel United Methodist Church, who gave the Invocation and Krista Fiorini, Bethel Garden Club, gave the Welcome and Introduction of Guests & Officials.
Patricia Dray, Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, spoke about the History of National Garden Clubs Blue Star Memorial Marker.
Blue Star Chairman, Pat Wilson-Perkins, Northern Fairfield County Blue Star Mothers, spoke about the History of the Blue Star Banner; Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, read a proclamation and presented a certificate, representative of a plaque to come.
Lt. Commander Mark Dwinells, gave a Military Tribute which included a personal story.
Jane Waugh, President, Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, gave the Dedication of the Blue Star Memorial Marker, that was now unveiled.
The music was provided by the Bethel High School Band and Choir, Damon Coachman, Karen Neville and Maureen DeBlois.
The Present Colors and Post Colors were done by the Bethel Navy JROTC.
The blue luminaria surrounded the island and garden and were lit that night, glowing in blue light, reflecting the names of those in the military honored by individuals who generously donated to the fundraiser. See photo below.
The Blue Star Memorial Marker Program
The Blue Star Memorial Marker Program of the National Garden Clubs, Inc. began in 1945 to honor the men and women serving in the Armed Forces during World War II. The name was chosen for the star on flags displayed in hoes and businesses denoting memorable plantings traversing every state. A uniform marker was designed to identify the Highways.
The Blue Star Memorial Program grew to extend thousands of miles across the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. All men and women who have served, are serving, or will serve in the Armed Forces of the United States, are included.
Markers continue to be dedicated each year on highways, Veterans’ facilities, National Cemeteries, parks and civic and historic sites, showing our appreciation for those who defend our country.
Plants in the Garden:
The plants in the garden were chosen because they are a national symbol or appear on insignias of the Armed Forces.
National floral emblem: Rose
Rosa “Veterans’ Honor”
National Tree: Oak
Substitute Oakleaf Hydrangea; Hydrangea quercifolia
Acer palm alum “Bloodgood”
Alberta Spruce: Picea glauca
Air Force: Laurel Mountain laurel (also CT state flower)
Kalmia latifolia “Galaxy”
Coast Guard: Evergreen Pine; Pinus stobus “Blue Shag”
Mountain Laurel (also CT state flower); Kalmia latifolia
Juniper; Juniperus squamata “Blue Star”
Bulbs; Common name Blue Star, Starflower,
Spring Star; aphelion uniform “Rolf Fiedler”
Present Colors…..Bethel Navy JROTC
National Anthem: The Star Spangled Banner…..Bethel High School Band and Choir
Pledge of Allegiance…..All
Post Colors…..Bethel Navy JROTC
Invocation…..Pastor Karen Cook, Bethel United Methodist Church
Welcome and Introduction of Guest & Officials…..Krista Fiorini, Bethel Garden Club
History of the Blue Star Banner…..Pat Wilson-Perkins, Northern Fairfield County Blue Star Mothers
History of National Garden Clubs Blue Star Memorial Marker…..Patricia Dray, Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Blue Star Chairman
Town of Bethel…..Matt Knickerbocker, First Selectman, Bethel CT
God Bless America…..Bethel High School Band and Choir
Military Tribute…..Lt. Commander Mark Dwinells
Dedication of the Blue Star Memorial Marker…..Jane Waugh, President, Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut
Tribute to Armed Forces Anthems…..Bethel High School Band and Choir
Special Thanks to:
–The Navy JROTC seniors Ellen Dennerlein, David Fruge, Hunter Sprock for their contribution to this project
–To the Navy JROTC Color Guard
–To the Navy JROTC Kevin Michalka for our sound system
–To the Bethel High School Band and Choir for providing our music; Maureen DeBlois, Damon Coachman and Karen Neville
The History of The Banner
Since WWI, a Blue Star Banner displayed in the front window of a home told others that a family member was serving n the Armed Forces. Captain Robert B. Quiesser, an Ohio National Guard veteran of the Mexican Border (1916) is credited with designing the original flag. In 1917 the Congressional Record stated: “The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother — their children.”
Also known as the Service Flag, the blue stands for hope and pride. When serve members lost their lives, the blue star was replaced with a gold one representing the sacrifice. A silver star stood for someone invalided home for wounds sustained overseas.
The flag made its appearance agains in WWII. On October 17, 1943, Congress authorized the flag which was approved as an official design.
Although the Service Flags virtually vanished during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, they appeared again during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the iraq W and the War on Terror.
The History of the Blue Star Mothers
On January 22, 1942 the Flint News Advertiser printed a coupon asking mothers of servicemen to return the coupon after filling it out. The following February 1s, 300 mothers met in the Durant Hotel, in Flint, Michigan. Captain George H. Maines, who had conceived the idea for this group, acted as the chair of this first meeting. It was decided, that after receiving 1,000 responses from the ad, to form a permanent organization.
On February 6th, the organization was reported on the Congressional Record Chapters then formed in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, California, Iowa and Washington. In June of 1960, the organization was chartered by Congress.
Mothers volunteered throughout tough the times of WWII. They worked in hospitals, train stations, packed care packages for soldiers and were a working art of homeland security during times of war. The organization waned in size over the years but has been held together by mothers showing pride in both their children and country. In recent times we began to grow in strength. Being attacked on our own soil has once again satrted mothers hanging flags in their windows at home proclaiming pride in the fact that we have children protecting our freedom during a time of war.
Our organization not only provides support for active duty personnel, promotes patriotism, assists veterans’ organizations, and are available to assist in homeland volunteer efforts to help our country remain strong.
Town of Bethel
Meserve Memorial Fund
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 935
Korean War Veterans Chapter 11
American Legion Post 100
Catholic War Veterans Danbury Post 1042
Blue Star Mothers of America, Northern Fairfield County, Chapter 4
The Danbury Exchange Club
Bethel Historical Society
Bethel Lions Club
Bethel Woman’s Club
To those who supported the luminary fundraiser
Peter and Joyce Filosi
Abbot Tech’s Graphic Design Department
Julio Grosso bda Sycamore Holdings, LLC
Donna H. Jack & Carol Samuelson dba Strykers Properties, LLC
Northern Fairfield County Association of Realtors
Danbury Savings and Loan
Belardinelli Tire Co.
R.E. Lawler Graphics and Printing
Stone Ridge Excavation
Bethel True Value
More photos below: