In Memorial: Destin Garden Club puts up marker at Destin Library to remember vets

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

With Memorial Day about a month away, the Destin Library now has a marker that pays tribute to those who have served in the United States armed forces. 

The plaque, known as a Blue Star Memorial Bi-Way marker, was the idea of the Destin Garden Club to place at the library.  

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About a dozen turned out to help erect the marker and pose for photos Tuesday on the library grounds.

Destin Public Services Director Michael Burgess, left, and Destin City Manager Lance Johnson place a Blue Star Memorial plaque in front of the Destin Library Tuesday morning. The plaque, which honors men and women that serve in the United States armed forces, is a project of the Destin Garden Club and will be officially dedicated later this year.

Lee Vanderpool, vice-president of the Garden Club, was excited the way everything turned out. 

“Oh my god yes … it worked out great,” Vanderpool said. 

He admitted he was nervous about something going wrong, but nothing did. 

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Vanderpool and some of the other club members came out on Wednesday and planted some flowers around the marker. 

Vanderpool, who was in the Air Force almost 22 years and worked another 20 in civil service, joined the garden club about a year ago.  

“So, I’m sort of partial to veterans,” Vanderpool said. 

Destin Public Services Director Michael Burgess, left, and Destin Garden Club President Lee Vanderpool hold a Blue Star Memorial plaque that the club is putting at the Destin Library. The plaque is part of a club project that will also include a small bench.

About a year ago, the garden club became part of the National Garden Club, which is a nationwide organization, and one of its programs is recognizing veterans. 

As new members to the national club, Vanderpool said, “why not do something that will kind of make a splash.” So, he started the push for the marker. 

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He said it has taken close to a year to get it all done. 

The club paid for the marker and the rest came through donations. He said as soon as word got out the club was doing this project, people started donating. 

The area where the marker now stands, just to the right of the walkway leading up to the library, is the eighth garden area that the Destin Garden Club maintains. 

A Blue Star Memorial, honoring those who have served in the country's armed forces, is placed in front of the Destin Library. The memorial is a project of the Destin Garden Club.

“I think it is a perfect fit for the library,” said Destin Librarian Wen Livingston, with people coming and going from all over. 

“With us being an area where there are two Air Force bases, a lot of training activity goes on here. I think it’s a perfect fit and they did a very good job, so it fits right in with the rest of the garden here,” Livingston said.

The Blue Star Program honors all men and women that serve in the United States armed forces.

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 (now NGC Inc.) adopted the 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, according to the National Garden Clubs website.