Rosita Arastoff, chair of the District 10 Blue Star Memorial Marker Program of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, made a presentation to the Royal Palm Beach Recreation Advisory Board on Monday, asking to install and dedicate a Blue Star Memorial By-Way marker at Veterans Park.
Parks & Recreation Director Lou Recchio chaired the meeting, which did not have a quorum with only board members Phyllis Katz and June Perrin present. Councilman Richard Valuntas also attended.
Arastoff, representing 18 garden clubs in seven counties, said the Blue Star concept was originally created by a World War I army captain. “It has since been adopted by the U.S. Department of Defense,” she said.
The Blue Star banner designed in 1917 was displayed on homes during both world wars, and the number of stars represented the number of family members serving in the armed forces.
The garden club’s affiliation with the veterans memorial program began more than 70 years ago, after the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs planted 8,000 dogwood trees along a stretch of U.S. 22 as a living memorial to veterans of World War II. Since its adoption, about 3,000 memorial markers have been installed, including one on U.S. 1 in North Palm Beach. “In 1981, the Blue Star tribute to the troops was expanded from the highways to also include national cemeteries, Veterans Administration centers, parks and other suitable locations,” she said. “For these locations, we use a smaller marker.”
Two years ago, a Blue Star By-Way marker was dedicated at Veterans Park in Stuart.
“The Florida Federation of Garden Clubs worked closely with the state legislature to develop the Blue Star program here,” Arastoff said. “The garden club, with its 1,200-plus members in District 10, would be honored to have one of our Blue Star markers join the other tributes to the troops here at Veterans Park in Royal Palm Beach.”
Recchio said the garden club purchases, installs and maintains the markers, including the replacement of damaged markers, and they are regularly inspected by garden club representatives.
“When Rosita came to me with this program, in all honesty, I didn’t realize what it is until I started looking through the pamphlet,” Recchio said. “Then I realized that I recalled seeing them on the highways. I’ve never seen them in the parks, but I think it’s a great program, and all we’re doing basically is giving them a site.”
Recchio said that if approved by the village, the dedication might take place on Veterans Day in November.