Monday, 15 July 2024

Blue Star Memorial marker dedicated in honor of veterans

Members of the North Lake Garden Club at the unveiling of the new Blue Star Memorial By-Way marker in Nice on Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

NICE – Thanks to the efforts of the North Lake Garden Club, Lake County has a new landmark honoring veterans which had its debut on Veterans Day.

The club unveiled the new Blue Star Memorial By-Way marker on Tuesday afternoon. It is located at Nice Triangle Parkway at Howard and Manzanita on Highway 20.

About 80 people – including numerous veterans, local dignitaries and members of the California Garden Club leadership – attended the 45-minute ceremony, which included bagpiper Karen Seydel of Ukiah and the Lake County United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team, which posted the flags of the US and California alongside the marker.

North Lake Garden Club President Henry Bethel explained that the marker is a tribute to all men and women who have served in the US armed forces, are serving now or will serve in the future.

The community, Bethel said, needs “to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.”

County Public Service Director Kim Clymire, into whose care the monument was officially passed on Tuesday, welcomed the visitors to the newest addition to the county's park system. He also thanked veterans for keeping the community free “to enjoy this beautiful paradise we live in.”

Potter Valley Garden Club President Betty Lindvig shared the history of the Blue Star Memorial program, which the National Garden Clubs of America adopted in 1946 to honor World War II veterans. It has since been expanded to honor all armed forces members.

Lindvig said the garden club members visualized a living memorial to all veterans, with the idea being to dedicate memorial highways to veterans from coast to coast. They've accomplished that goal, with memorial highways now to be found in every state in the union, including Hawaii and Alaska. The first memorial highway was dedicated in New Jersey.

There are three types of Blue Star memorial markers, Lindvig said: the Blue Star Memorial Highway, Blue Star Memorial Marker and the Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker.

The by-way marker, which is what is now found at Triangle Parkway, was introduced in 1981 for placement at state lines, entrances to towns, intersections and rest areas, she explained.

The blue star is a symbol first introduced on service flags during World War I. During World War II, it was common to see families with sons and daughters in the military hanging the blue star flags in the windows of their homes, Lindvig noted. The flags didn't have the same popularity during the Korean and Vietnam wars, but more recently they've begun to be seen once more.

The new by-way marker in Nice is the second Blue Star memorial to be established in Lake County, said Lindvig. The first, a Blue Star marker located next to the Lake County Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, was placed by the Clear Lake Trowel and Trellis Club and dedicated on Nov. 11, 1998, approximately 10 years ago.

In the Mendo-Lake Garden Club District as a whole, Lindvig noted there are a total of five Blue Star memorials. The others are located at the Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg (by-way marker, dedicated Nov. 11, 1997); near the California Department of Forestry on Highway 101 (highway marker, dedicated Nov. 11, 2002 by the Willits Garden Club); and at Camp 20 Recreation Area of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest on Highway 20 (by-way marker, dedicated by the Mendo-Lake District on Nov. 11, 2006).

Robin Pokorski, president of the California Garden Clubs Inc., congratulated the North Lake Garden Club for its work and presented Bethel with a certificate in honor of the club's achievement.

Elijah Christopher of Lucerne, a Navy construction builder and second class petty officer BU2, recently returned from Iraq and was a guest of honor at the Tuesday ceremony.

Christopher, whose brother also was in Iraq while he was there, is the grandson of a World War II veteran. He recalled that his mother, Donna, keeps an article with his late grandfather's things that says those in the armed forces give the government a blank check for any amount, including their lives.

“I am lucky to be a Lake County serviceman,” said Christopher, adding his thanks to Operation Tango Mike for sending him care packages while he was overseas. He noted that he was happy to get back home to Lake County.

Pokorski and club member Gina-Belle Smith then removed a red, white and blue cloth that covered the brass Blue Star marker, which is affixed to large boulder at the park.

In officially passing the marker over to the county, the garden club's Blue Star chair, Sharon Thorne, noted that the marker couldn't have come to pass without the hard work of the club's 25 members, as well as support from the district and state garden clubs. Club members then placed flowers next to the marker.

District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing thanked veterans on behalf of a grateful community for their work to protect the country and democracy.

She urged everyone to fight for their freedoms every day.

“I don't think democracy comes as something that is static, I think it's something we have to work at,” she said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Elijah Christopher, recently home from service in Iraq, spoke at the ceremony on Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




A close up of the newly unveiled marker. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




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