Blue Star Memorial Marker

From left at the Blue Star Memorial Marker dedication Friday are Brenda Crocker, president of the N.C. Garden Club; Ginger Haden, president of the Rocky Mount Garden Club; and Paula Hartman, chairwoman of the N.C. Garden Club.

A Blue Star Memorial Marker that honors the nation’s military veterans has a new home in Nash County.

Members of the Rocky Mount Garden Club and officials with the state Department of Transportation on Friday joined veterans who rededicated the marker near the flagpole at the Interstate 95 rest area in Rocky Mount.

“This marker is a wonderful tribute to the sacrifices our men and women in the armed forces have made for our country,” said Gus Tulloss, District 4 representative on the state Board of Transportation.

The marker had been at another location in Rocky Mount and was relocated from along a stretch of Wesleyan Boulevard two years ago when the N.C. DOT began widening that section of the boulevard.

The Rocky Mount Garden Club, which sponsored the marker, had been storing the marker until a better location — one where people could more easily see it — was identified.

The Blue Star Memorial Program was founded in 1944, when the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs planted 8,000 dogwood trees to honor World War II veterans. The program is based on the Blue Star Flag, displayed by families who have relatives serving in the military. The program eventually was extended to highway markers to recognize all people who served in the U.S. military.

North Carolina’s first Blue Star Memorial Highway was approved for U.S. 301 in 1949, with a marker dedicated in 1956 in Fayetteville. Since then, more than 40 have been placed across North Carolina, including 13 at rest areas and welcome centers.

In 1978, the state Board of Transportation provided that local garden clubs could request approval from the department to put up Blue Star Markers.