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Blue Star Markers sought in Gettysburg

| Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 6:51 p.m.

As a tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces, the Gettysburg Garden Club has begun a campaign to construct small memorials in their honor.

The club hopes to install two Blue Star Markers in Gettysburg — one at the Evergreen Cemetery and the other outside the Adams County Courthouse.

The Blue Star Marker Project is a countrywide campaign established by the National Council of State Garden Clubs in 1945 as a small way to show appreciation for nation's service members. It grew out of the tradition of the Blue Star Banners, which starting during World War I were displayed in the front windows of homes where family members were serving in the Armed Forces.

Today, the Blue Star Banners have taken a new shape, as large aluminum signs displayed along highways and at cemeteries, parks, and other civic locations. As of March, there were 58 of these markers in Pennsylvania, including one at the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Hanover, and yet none in Gettysburg. That is, until the Gettysburg Garden Club got its hands on the project.

“This project fell onto my radar a few years ago, and I just decided that it was the right thing to do,” said Gettysburg Garden Club member Barbara Brand, “and I decided Gettysburg deserved not one, but two, markers.”

In a place as steeped in military history as Gettysburg, Brand said, markers dedicated to the nation's armed service members just seemed natural.

Aesthetically, the markers are very similar to those that have been placed by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Gettysburg and more than 2,000 other historic locations throughout the state.

Both markers are blue with yellow writing, which means that the Blue Star Markers will fit in well with other signage in Gettysburg, Brand said. The Blue Star Markers are simple yet stately looking, with the words, “a tribute to the Armed Forces that have defended the United States of America,” emblazoned across the front.

The Gettysburg Garden Club has been raising money for the markers for about a year and is still actively fundraising in order to generate a maintenance fund to care for the signs over time. The goal is to raise enough money so that neither Cumberland Township nor the Gettysburg Borough, where the two markers will be located, will ever have to spend any money on the markers or the upkeep, Brand said.

Approval for the marker at the Evergreen Cemetery has been granted by the cemetery's owner, and the club is now awaiting approval from Adams County commissioners for the marker that will be placed outside the courthouse. If everything goes as planned, both markers will be installed at commemoration ceremonies in October.

“We just thought it was a nice thing to have done during the 150th,” Brand said.

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