What are these blue stars? Whizzing along Rt. 3, we see them here and there along the roadside. Just off Rt. 3, there’s another in the front garden of the Crofton Library. This blue star is mounted on a bronze plaque in a large stone. Stop a moment in the library safe space, and you read that it is a Blue Star Memorial By-Way marker paying tribute to the Armed Forces of America.
The Crofton Village Garden Club laid this heavy stone and keeps the garden lovely. “Many of our members have family or friends who’ve served our country,” says Club President Sally Moore. “We wanted something beautiful in a public area so it could be shared with all.”
Star banners were first used in World War I but became more common during World War II. Each blue star represented a serviceman or woman stationed overseas, while a gold star commemorated a service member killed in combat.
The National Garden Club, parent of 99 Maryland garden clubs, has placed many thousand Blue Star highway and byway memorials since 1944. The program started in New Jersey, when that state’s Council of Garden Clubs decorated a portion of U.S. Route 22 as a living tribute to veterans of World War II, then just ending. The next year, New Jersey named that stretch the Blue Star Drive, honoring the iconic blue stars featured in the World War II-era service flag.
The National Council of State Garden Clubs was impressed. What better way to honor our sons and daughters who’d fought and died than to keep America’s roads beautiful? Thus, the Blue Star Highway System was born.
Working in tandem with state highway departments, state garden clubs got their projects rolling. Billboards began disappearing along designated highways. Drivers began seeing metal Blue Star markers along highways and by-ways across the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii.
Today’s Blue Star Program honors all Americans who served. Local Garden Clubs now place markers in parks, public areas, civic locations, veterans’ hospitals and cemeteries, landscaping the grounds to create oases of serenity.
So when you pass a blue star, take a moment to breathe in peace.