The beginning of the brick walkway leading to the veteran’s memorial at J.F. Gregory is now graced by an official Blue Star Memorial maker.
The marker, made possible through fundraising efforts by the Richmond Hill Garden Club, was unveiled during a gala event Wednesday afternoon in the park.
Richmond Hill Garden Club President Mary Burns said the marker cost $1,100 to erect and the club raised this money during last year’s pumpkin patch event in the park. She said Mayor Richard Davis was all for it when she presented the concept to him, which was the last key to making this project a reality.
The festivities included performances from Richmond Hill High School’s band, chorus and JROTC. In addition, a panel of local dignitaries lined up on the park’s stage to give their thoughts on the arrival of the marker. Television news anchor Sonny Dixon emceed the festivities and introduced each speaker, which included Senator Eric Johnson, 3rd Infantry Division Lt. Col. Brian Gale, National Guard Director Col. David Lee and Gloria Myes-Calloway, who is the Chairman of the Blue Star Marker Memorial project.
"This marker will transcend time on letting the armed forces members that pass through here know that the Richmond Hill community cares about them and cares about the sacrifices they have made," Col. Lee said. "In the next 90 days, you’ll see 9,000 more soldiers return home from Iraq. When these families come back, they’re going to walk down that brick way and they’re going to see this monument and feel the love this community has for all of your soldiers serving in uniform."
Myes-Callaway said the Blue Star program began in 1945 to honor the men and women serving in the Armed Forces during World War II. The name was chosen for the star on flags displayed in homes and businesses denoting a family member serving. Since then, thousands of markers have been erected all across the country. She said no marker may bear an individual’s name or particular branch of military service because they are designed to pay tribute to the Armed Forces as a whole.
It becomes the second to be put in Bryan County as the city of Pembroke erected one about a year ago on East Bacon Street, in front of Clyde’s Market.
Col. Lee, a Bulloch county resident, said he was compelled to attend this event in order to express his gratitude for the monument being placed.
"My travels throughout this country," Lee said. "Whenever I see a Blue Star marker, it touches my heart to know that a community is doing what they can to pay tribute to each and every member of the armed forces."
Senator Johnson said he came down to thank the city of Richmond Hill this day, "because it’s places like Richmond Hill that produce the men and women of our armed forces that defend this life that we live here in America. It’s towns like Richmond Hill that tie the yellow ribbons around the old oak tree, that support the military families, that have parades, that create monuments and welcome them home. So God bless America, God bless Georgia, God bless Richmond Hill and the men and women of our armed forces."