Garden Club cleans up rest area
June 23, 2009 · 10:37 AM
ARLINGTON — Garden Clubs of America have been grooming highway rest stops across the United States since 1944 in a project called the Blue Star Memorial Highway Program that was launched by the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs.
It started with the planting of 8,000 dogwood trees as a living memorial to veterans of World War II, said Jean Olson, an Arlington Garden Club member who joined a work party at the Smokey Point Rest Area recently.
The name was chosen for the star on flags displayed in homes and businesses denoting a family member serving during the war.
The national garden club organization pictured a ribbon of living memorial plantings traversing every state, Olson said.
The designation of Blue Star Highways is achieved through petitions to the state legislatures and in cooperation with state departments of transportation.
A uniform marker was designed to identify the highways and the Blue Star Memorial Program grew to thousands of miles across continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii.
All men and women who have served, are serving or will serve in the Armed Forces of the United States are honored in the program, but no people are named.
“They show our appreciation for those who defend our country,” Olson said.
It wasn’t until 1988 that the Evergreen District of the Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs received permission to purchase a marker.
And then it wasn’t until 1993 that the opportunity to actually install the marker came about after the Department of Transportation completed the rest stop in the northbound I-5 Smokey Point area.
The marker was installed and the assigned area was planted with native plants. Evergreen District is acknowledged as the sponsor of the Blue Star Memorial Marker and is responsible for the maintenance of the planting area, but in recent years, the Arlington Garden Club has taken a lead role in the maintenance of this area.
To that end, members of the Arlington Garden Club including Dee Peseau, Judy Ness, Jean Olson, Meg Jacobsen, Bruce Peseau, Barb Woodward and Tina Wilson pulled weeds, trimmed trees and bushes and spread bark on June 4 to freshen the area for the enjoyment of summer travelers.