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Estero Island Garden Club to dedicate Blue Star Memorial Marker Sunday

By NATHAN MAYBERG - | May 20, 2021

The Estero Island Garden Club will hold a ceremony this Saturday, May 22, to pay tribute to all veterans with a Blue Star Memorial Marker. The memorial marker was placed at the Fort Myers Beach Public Library with the assistance of Jonathan Fossum, left, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who served in Afghanistan, and Tate Feste, right, U.S. Army veteran, who served in Iraq. PHOTO PROVIDED

The Estero Island Garden Club will honor veterans with the dedication of a Blue Star Memorial Marker at the Fort Myers Beach Public Library this Saturday.

The marker, which has been covered in plastic outside the library’s entrance, will be unveiled at 10 a.m.

The blue star was used on service flags to denote a service member fighting in the war. The program has since been expanded to include memorial markers and memorial by-ways. The markers are used in national cemeteries, parks, veteran’s facilities and gardens, said Estero Island Garden Club past president Carol Dallas.

Dallas said the marker has been in the works for a year. Dallas wanted to pay tribute to veterans and club members Polky and Tom Ashford made a $1,500 donation for the marker. The garden club erected the marker with the assistance of military veterans Tate Feste and Jonathan Fossum. Feste and Fossum are the children of garden club members Ann Fossum and Patti Feste.

Dallas, whose husband Arthur is a military veteran, credited the club’s current president Paula Smith in being a “big help to me in getting it accomplished.”

According to the National Garden Clubs website, the Blue Star Program honors all men and women that serve in the United States Armed Services. The program began with the planting of 8,000 dogwood trees by the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs in 1944 as a living memorial to veterans of World War II. In 1945, the National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted this program and began a Blue Star Highway system that covers thousands of miles across the Continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. Blue Star Memorial Highway Markers were placed along the way. The Blue Star was adopted because it had become an icon in World War II and was seen on flags and banners in homes for sons and daughters away at war as well as in churches and businesses.

As part of the ceremony, there will hear a brief history of the Blue Star markers followed by the unveiling and dedication of the marker. There will be an invocation and benediction, a color guard, and patriotic music performed by “Brass Music Elements,” and will conclude with echo taps.

“The veterans in our country need to be honored,” Dallas said. “They need respect. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have this country.”

The Fort Myers Beach Public Library is at 2755 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach. For additional information about the library, call 239-765-8162. For additional information about the Lee County Public Library system, visit www.leelibrary.net.