Blue Star Memorial dedicated Sunday in Milford

Memorial Day in Milford saw residents gather to salute veterans on several fronts: A wreath laying ceremony and Memorial Day Parade took place Sunday, as did the dedication of a new city memorial in front of the Fowler Memorial building.

The new Blue Star Memorial was the culmination of work by the Milford Garden Club, which worked with the city and various city groups to fund and place the new marker.

A signpost-style memorial set on a circular concrete pad, it is set with the words, “A tribute to the Armed Forces who have defended the United States of America.”

Sunday’s program included several speeches and a performance by the Milford Ancient Fife and Drum Corps.

Chistine Smith, vice chair of the Veterans Ceremony and Parade Commission, offered words about the new memorial, and also did the honors of singing the Star Spangled Banner.

She asked those gathered to remember those serving or those who have served, and to also think about their families, who also face hardships and make sacrifices “as their loved ones fight tyranny and oppression.”

The National Garden Clubs Blue Star Memorial Marker Program began in 1945 to honor the men and women serving in the Armed Forces during WWII. The name was chosen for the star on flags displayed in homes and businesses denoting a family member serving.

“The Blue Star Memorial Program grew to extend thousands of miles across continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii,” states a write-up in the memorial dedication program. Markers continue to be dedicated each year on highways, and now at veterans’ facilities, national cemeteries, parks and civic and historic sites.

Tom Flowers, chairman of Milford’s Veterans Ceremony and Parade Commission, thanked the Garden Club for leading the effort to erect the Blue Star Memorial. It stands next to the Founder’s Walk, which is taking shape next to the Fowler Memorial building. The Founder’s Walk will include historic markers, a paved walkway, and tributes to veterans.

“Someone sent me a cartoon, not meant to be funny,” Flowers told the crowd during Sunday’s dedication. “In the cartoon were a father and son and they were standing next to a tombstone of a veteran who had paid the ultimate price, and the father said to his son, ‘he has sacrificed all of his tomorrows so we could have our todays’.”

Garden Club President Bunny Elmore credited member Kathy Kobishyn with bringing the idea for the Blue Star Memorial to the Garden Club, and Marika Mosley for stepping up to chair the club’s Blue Star Memorial Marker committee.

Mosley pointed out that the memorial honors all veterans — those who have served, are serving and those who will serve.

“Some of our nation’s first veterans came from Milford,” Mosley said.

Mayor Ben Blake said the effort brought the entire community together.

The day’s speakers also included Krista Swanson Fiorini, Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut Blue Star Memorial Marker chairman, who explained the history of the program, which she said stands for “hope and pride.”

Andrea Little, National Garden Club’s Blue and Gold Star Families Marker chairman, talked about the history of Memorial Day, and said, “Our veterans are the very best on Earth.”

Greg Smith, a very active local veteran, former alderman and inductee in the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, spoke briefly too about the importance of honoring people who have served their country.

“Remember,” Smith said, “freedom does not automatically perpetuate itself.”