The Trent Woods Garden Club will dedicate a Blue Star Memorial Highway Marker at the rest area at Clarks Road on Sept. 8.

The dedication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. and will feature retired Marine Maj. Gen. Tom Braaten as guest speaker. The event will also include the Marine Color Guard and the Knights of Columbus Honor Guard.

The Blue Star Marker program began in 1941 to honor the men and women in the U.S. Armed Services. The markers can be found not only on highways, but also in parks, veteran centers, hospitals and cemeteries.

There are 90 Blue Star Memorial Highway Markers in North Carolina, three of which are in Craven County: one on U.S. 70 at Pembroke, one in Havelock in front of Havelock Town Hall and a Byway Marker in Trent Woods.

According to Paula Hartman, chair of the Trent Woods Garden Club, the project is supported financially by the Craven County Veterans Council, which includes 12 local veteran organizations,and by Elks Post #764 and the Knights of Columbus.

Hartman said she contacted the state Department of Transportation about placing a marker at the Clarks Road rest area shortly after renovations were completed there earlier this year.

“I knew it would be a perfect spot,” said Hartman. “And this area has so many veterans and family members of veterans that I knew it would mean a lot to people. I think this will be important to all of us.”

The NC Department of Transportation will be installing the marker within the next several weeks, said Hartman.

“We’re very excited. We’re expecting around 250 people to come out for the dedication. Hopefully we can get representatives from each of World War II, Vietnam and the other American conflicts to join us.”

The Blue Star Memorial program began with the planting of 8,000 Dogwood trees by the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs as a living memorial to veterans of World War II. In 1945, the National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted the program and began a Blue Star Highway system that covers thousands of miles across the Continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii.

The Blue Star became an icon in World War II and was seen on flags and banners in homes for sons and daughters away at war, and in churches and businesses.