Belvoir Soldier participates in Blue Star Memorial opening
Sgt. Jonathan Duralde of Fort Belvoir’s Warrior Transition Unit speaks at the Montclair Blue Star Memorial Marker Dedication in Montclair, Va., on Armed Forces Day, May 21.

A Fort Belvoir Soldier helped a lo­cal garden club dedicate a Blue Star Memorial marker, appropriately, on Armed Forces Day, May 21.

Sgt. Jonathan Duralde, assigned to Belvoir's Warrior Transition Unit, spoke at the Montclair Blue Star Memorial Marker Dedication, which the Garden Club of Montclair and the Montclair Property Owners Associa­tion in Virginia sponsored.

Duralde, of Alexandria, Va., said the speaking opportunity gave him a chance to learn about the Blue Star Highway System.

"It's important for everyone to re­member," he said after the ceremony. "I lost a lot of friends and it's nice to be here to remember them and honor them." Duralde has served in Sadr City and Ramadi, Iraq; and in Kandahar, Afghanistan. On July 25, he was hit by an improvised explosive device and lost his left leg.

Lin Stauffer, the garden club's awards chair, said groundbreaking for the marker took place in Novem­ber.

"We feel this is a tribute to all armed forces," Stauffer said, adding that the Garden Club of Montclair and the National Capital Area of Garden Clubs promote Blue Star markers and gardens throughout Washington, D. C.; Maryland and northern Virginia.

"We also feel it's a way for our community to show support, as it is dedicated to ordinary men and women who strive to do the extraor­dinary," Stauffer said.

Kathy Sahlberg, president of the Garden Club of Montclair, said the idea for the project started in March 2009. "We had a vision to honor those who served, are serving or will serve," she said.

"It's so gratifying to see the me­morial come to fruition and that it's now a permanent reminder of sacri­fices made for freedom," said Mau­reen Caddigan, Prince William County Board of Supervisors, vice chairman. "It will help us all to never forget those who've selflessly served." At the end of the ceremony, Du­ralde and Catherine Kudrick, presi­dent of the board of directors for the property owners association, un­veiled the marker. Then, Duralde; Vickie Godwin, president of the Na­tional Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc.; Sahlberg and Marge Lyons, the 2010 president of the Garden Club of Montclair, put a living wreath at the marker.

Page last updated Thu June 9th, 2011 at 15:57