The Town and Country Garden Club of Wilson County and dozens of guests celebrated the marker inside the recently completed Wilson County Veterans Museum. The Blue Star Memorial Program honors all men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, past and present.
Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley delivered a military tribute during the ceremony. Bradley, who retired from the U.S. Air Force after 41 years, is the president and CEO of the Lamia Afghan Foundation, which builds schools for girls in Afghanistan.
Bradley discussed the shift in treatment of U.S. military veterans after the cruel treatment of Vietnam veterans.
“Over the years, however, the American people seem to lose respect for those serving, perhaps because of those more controversial wars, but I have a perceptive from having been in the United States Air Force from 1963 to 2008,” he said.
“I saw an enormous change in the perception held by the American people for military personnel over the decades. It is so gratifying to see the armed forces of the United States become arguably the most admired people in the country. The American people learned those serving do not set the American policies or decide when and where we go to war.”
Bradley also discussed the Blue Star Marker that will now rest on the Wilson County Veterans Plaza grounds.
“We’re blessed to have the Town and Country Garden Club and the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs initiate this process of placing this beautiful memorial marker here at the Wilson County Veterans Memorial Plaza. On behalf of all of those who serve now and the many veterans who served in the armed forces, I want to thank you,” he said.
Pat Galyean, Town and Country Garden Club of Wilson County president, Pamela Dowd, Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs president, Denise Thorne, Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs District II director, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto and Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash also made remarks during the ceremony.
This 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, according to the National Garden Clubs official website. In 1945, the National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted the program and began a Blue Star Highway system that covers thousands of miles across the U.S. A large metal Blue Star Memorial highway marker was placed at appropriate locations along the way.