A Blue Star Memorial to honor those who have served in the U.S. armed forces is coming to Ahwatukee Foothills.

At the close of World War II National Garden Clubs were searching for a way to honor the men and women who had fought in the war. They decided to plant 1,000 Dogwood trees along a stretch of highway in New Jersey as a living memorial to those who had served. The project was named after the blue star that hung in the windows of homes and businesses during the war to honor those who were serving.

As time went on the project became larger. Signs designating highways as Blue Star Memorial Highways were posted across the U.S. Later a smaller marker was developed to dedicate parks, gardens, museums, cemeteries and other appropriate civic locations. In 1951 the mission of the project expanded to include honoring not only WWII veterans but any who had served or were serving in the armed forces.

Now, the project is making an appearance in Ahwatukee Foothills.

Judy Tolbert, an Ahwatukee resident and former medical technician for the U.S. Army, approached her garden club, Desert Pointe Garden Club, about bringing a Blue Star Memorial marker to Ahwatukee years ago. At the time the club didn’t have much funds, and the marker is expensive to order, but the club agreed to host garage sales and do all it could to raise enough funds.

The group found Modern Woodmen, who offered them a matching fund grant to help pay for the project. Ahwatukee Board of Management (ABM) offered a location as well as in-kind labor for the project. Now it is well under way and is expected to be finished by the grand opening on March 24.

The marker will be placed in a raised flower bed in the center of a 20-foot-by-20-foot patio just outside the baseball field at ABM, 4700 E. Warner Road. The patio will be paved with up to 200 memorial pavers that are still available for purchase.

All money raised from the pavers will go back to Desert Pointe Garden Club for future charitable endeavors. As a rule, the club must spend all funds on charity.

“We’ve had such support from everybody,” Tolbert said. “It’s crazy. The base of some memorial markers are granite and ours will have the granite, too. A company donated the granite for us. We’re going to have roses in the flower bed, and the roses were donated. We also have a nice display at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center and I ordered blue stars made of metal from a company in Ohio to go in the display. When they found out what we were doing, they donated the blue stars. They were all excited and wanted to put photos of the memorial on their website. Everyone has just been so enthused. We had a board member offer to create the display, and we’ve had all the items loaned to us. I started out just wanting to do a little memorial, and now we’ve gotten so much support.”

Support from the community continues to grow. Mayor Greg Stanton has agreed to be a guest speaker at the dedication and the American Legion will be doing the military honors.

The garden club will have a table set up at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center, 5001 E. Cheyenne Drive, every Tuesday and Thursday morning until the dedication from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. to help fill out order forms for memorial pavers.

For more information on the project or the pavers, email Desert Pointe Garden club at dpgc@cox.net.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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