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Admiration for those backing Blue Star Memorial Program

To the editor:

Last week my sons and I attended a ceremony to commemorate the placement of a Blue Star Memorial marker in Malvern. On this occasion two very different groups were brought together by patriotism and a sense of duty.

National Garden Clubs Inc. is the sponsor of the Blue Star Memorial Program. The program was established in 1944 and seeks to honor veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Memorial markers are identified by a large blue star like the ones used on flags and banners during World War II. They are placed at locations such as national cemeteries, parks, veterans’ facilities, and parks.

There were many notable Garden Club members on site including statewide leadership. They were joined by a chorus and an array of veterans. In addition to the usual group of local dignitaries there was also a group of motorcyclists holding flags.

I wanted to make sure my sons and I had the opportunity to meet some of the program participants. The local Garden Club ladies were wonderful. As expected they were kind, professional and enthusiastic about the contribution they were making to the Malvern community. The motorcyclists were members of the Patriot Guard Riders. The style of the local Garden Club and the Patriot Guard Riders was quite a contrast.

I was told the Guard formed to shield the mourning families of veterans from members of the Westboro Baptist Church. As you may recall the Westboro Baptist Church is from Kansas and often makes headlines for disrupting the funerals of fallen soldiers. There was also a notable Supreme Court case involving a soldier’s family and the church. I was really intrigued by the Guard, because when I discuss civil liberties with my classes I always talk about the Westboro Baptist Church.

I had time to meet with members of both groups and learn more about their efforts to honor our veterans. The National Garden Club has placed thousands of markers to remind people of the services provided by our veterans. The Patriot Guard Riders not only enable military families to grieve privately but also serve at memorials. Both groups work passionately and respectfully to thank those who have served our nation in our armed forces.

If you ever doubt the greatness of our nation, show me another place where the elegant ladies of the garden club team up with a group of leather clad bikers to honor the service of their fellow citizens.

There will be another Blue State Memorial marker ceremony in Minerva on Sept. 6. I strongly encourage you to contact your local Garden Club to find out how you can contribute to this awesome project. Also, take a few minutes and research the Patriot Guard Riders online. They are some incredible people too.

CRAIG BROWN,

Salem

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