Belvoir Soldier participates in Blue Star Memorial opening
June 8, 2011
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.