Armed Forces Day in Perrysburg will be celebrated May 17 with a Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker dedication. Perrysburg High School alumnus Air Force Col. Kip Turain is coming home to take part in the event.
The Perrysburg Garden Club raised money and installed the marker and two benches in Riverside Park. The dedication for the marker and benches will be at 1 p.m. May 17.
“It is the first Blue Star By-Way Marker in northwest Ohio and we’re proud of that,” said Mary Turain, Perrysburg Garden Club committee member, retired Air Force member, and mother of Colonel Turain. “This is very important to us. The garden club committee is so pleased with the generosity of the community.”
The National Garden Club in 1944 started the Blue Star program to honor World War II veterans. The Perrysburg Garden Club became involved in the program after the National Garden Club president sent a letter encouraging others to have Blue Star memorials.
The Blue Star Memorial Program began with the planting of 8,000 dogwood trees by the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs in 1944.
In 1945, the National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted the program and began a Blue Star Highway system, in which markers were placed at appropriate locations.
Memorial markers and By-Way markers were added to the Highway markers, to be used at locations such as national cemeteries, parks, veterans’ facilities, and gardens, according to the National Garden Club’s Web site.
The Blue Star became an icon in World War II and was seen in many homes, noting that the family had a close relative who was in the service.
Mrs. Turain said the community rallied behind the group’s fund-raising to put in the marker and install the two benches.
“The two benches by the garden [in Riverside Park] are a great place to sit, relax, and think about those it is honoring," she said.
Her son is the director of operations and plans for the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. He has more than 4,600 flight hours.
“It’s phenomenal the agencies and individuals rallying behind the garden club to put this event on,” Colonel Turain said. “I’m looking forward to thanking them individually.”
Members of the garden club hope area veterans reach out to them to be included in the event program to honor them. Glenn [Scott] Gmitter reached out to Mr. Turain after he found out about the event. The two played football against each other in high school — Colonel Turain with Perrysburg, Mr. Gmitter with Anthony Wayne.
Mr. Gmitter served in the Army National Guard.
While Colonel Turain is excited to reconnect with old acquaintances and honor America’s heroes, he said it isn’t about him.
“It is all about honoring the military men and women who served before,” Colonel Turain said. “We stand on the shoulders of giants before us.”