South Town Gardeners spearheaded effort to dedicate site in honor of military veterans
A Blue Star Memorial Marker to honor past, present and future members of this nation's Armed Forces has been placed at Chestnut Ridge Park in the Town of Orchard Park. It's the first and only Blue Star Memorial Marker located in an Erie County Park where visitors can pay their respects and admiration for this country's brave men and women.
"It is very fitting that we add to one of the jewels of our Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department a dedicated place for visitors to Chestnut Ridge Park to take a few moments to pause and pay respect by honoring the many brave individuals who serve and protect our great nation," Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said. "It is important that we never forget the sacrifices made by our veterans, because it is through their efforts we are able to enjoy the many freedoms that exist today."
The Blue Star Marker was officially dedicated Wednesday during a patriotic program coordinated by the South Town Gardeners and attended by various dignitaries, including military veterans representing the different branches of the Armed Forces, including members of Orchard Park American Legion Post No. 567.
"The placement and dedication of the Blue Star Marker inside Chestnut Ridge Park establishes a destination for those who want to visit and take time to show their appreciation of those who have served in the Armed Forces," Erie County Commissioner of Parks, Recreation & Forestry Troy P. Schinzel said. "Our department has worked very closely with the South Town Gardeners on this project and look forward to helping ensure the area in and around the marker is maintained."
The Blue Star Memorial Marker, which was funded by the South Town Gardeners, was placed at the flagpole garden near the casino. Volunteers from the South Town Gardeners will continue to maintain the garden by watering and weeding the area and maintaining the existing plants. They also will place an evergreen wreath each December to annually coincide with and support the Wreaths Across American project, which recognizes veterans for their service by placing wreaths on gravesites and in honor gardens across the country.
"This Blue Star Marker represents hope, prestige and pride, and serves as a living tribute to the men and women of our nation's Armed Forces," Erie County Director of Veteran's Services Francis J. McLaughlin said. "It is fitting and appropriate that the services and sacrifices of our citizen soldiers can be recognized in one of Erie County's premiere public parks."
The National Garden Clubs began the Blue Star Memorial Marker Program in 1945 to honor the men and women serving in the Armed Forces during World War II. The program has grown over the past 70 years to honor military personnel who have served in the past, are currently serving or will serve in the future. Markers are dedicated each year on highways, veteran facilities, cemeteries, historical sites and parks throughout the country.
"This is important for Western New York and those of us who live in Erie County, because this shows people that we care and that we support and encourage the Blue Star Memorial Marker program continues to move forward," said Elaine DiPietro, Blue Star Memorial chairperson of National Garden Clubs Inc.'s Central Atlantic Region.
Other participants in the ceremony included members of Boy Scout Troop No. 230, Erie County Legislature Chairman John J. Mills and Erie County Emergency Services Chaplain the Rev. John Gaglione.
For more information, visit the Erie County Department of Park, Recreation and Forestry's website at http://www2.erie.gov/parks/.