Those words came from Capt. Mark Brooks, a retired U.S. Naval Officer, during Thursday’s ceremony to dedicate a Blue Star Marker at the Col. Robert L. Howard Veterans Home. Brooks and the other members of the Leadership St. Clair Class of 2013 teamed up with the Pell City Garden Club to obtain the monument, which will be erected on Veterans Parkway.
“The Blue Star Marker is a tribute to our military members who have protected our freedoms that we enjoy today,” Brooks said. “The Pell City Garden Club will provide and tend the flowers planted around the monument. Their beautiful touch will bring attention to the living memorial.”
The Blue Star has been a symbol for military families since the days of the World War I, when families displayed a blue star banner to indicate a family member serving in the Armed Forces. The marker design came in 1947, from Mrs. Frederick R. Kellogg, a past president of the National Council of State Garden Clubs.
Ellen Tanner, executive director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency and member of the ’13 Leadership class, said the class voted to make the marker its class project in late 2012.
“It was a huge project,” Tanner said. “It required a lot of teamwork.”
The project required approval both from the local, state and national Garden Clubs, before it could become official. At Thursday’s ceremony, Pell City Club president Fran Wilson was on hand to accept the marker.
“It is my privilege to accept this marker on behalf the Pell City Garden Club,” she said. “It will be our privilege to take care of the ground where the marker will stand.”
The ceremony on Thursday included the National Anthem by the Pell City High School choir, presentations of colors from the St. Clair County High JROTC and speeches from both National Garden Club State President Jo Ann Wade, and St. Clair County Commission chairman Stan Batemon.
“This marker will stand as a testament to something that started many years ago,” Batemon said. “It is to remind us of our veterans, and what it means to be a military person who protects the rights we have in this country.”
Wilson, David Gray from the Leadership Class and Roy Owen, president of the local Veterans Council, unveiled the marker.
Brooks called it “a symbol for all to see, lest we forget, those who help to keep us free.”
Contact Will Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.