LINGLE – On a breezy Saturday, punctuated by the sounds of afternoon traffic and passing trains, Lions Park here officially became home to a memorial to veterans and active service members.
Sponsored jointly by the Grassroots Garden Club, Lingle-Fort Laramie Lions Club and the local American Legion post, a dozen or so residents gathered to dedicate a Blue Star Memorial By-Way marker. It makes the 10th such designation in the state, just behind a similar ceremony in Casper earlier in the day.
“Thank you to all the service men and women who’ve made the sacrifices so all Americans may enjoy the freedoms we do,” Barb Yates, Blue Star Program chair from the Wyoming Federation of Garden Clubs, said as she led the dedication. “I chose to help honor veterans as I come from a family
The Blue Star Memorial program started out much differently, when the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs planted some 8,000 live dogwood trees to honor and remember World War II veterans in 1944. Blue stars had become “iconic” during the war, Yates said, indicating the family of someone serving in the military on the homes where they were displayed. So the national garden club took over the program in 1945, installing monuments and markers featuring the blue star around the country to honor living veterans and the fallen.
“The program has been expanded to include markers and memorial highways,” she said. “The markers are used in national cemeteries, parks, veteran facilities and public gardens.”
In her travels around the country, Yates said she’s had the opportunity to view many of the almost 3,000 Blue Star markers and memorials currently standing in all 50 states. One such encounter left a lasting impression.
“On a senior bus trip once, when we got off the bus in a little town in Pennsylvania, I stepped off the bus and facing me was a Blue Star Memorial marker,” Yates said. “It was just so great to see across the nation what garden clubs are doing to honor