Jefferson City, Mo. -- The Ike Skelton Training Site is home to a new tribute to the armed forces.The Missouri National Guard, alongside the Federated Garden Clubs of Missouri -- Capital Garden Club, recently dedicated a Blue Star Memorial marker at the Missouri Museum of Military History at the Missouri National Guard Headquarters at the Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City.The unveiling of the Blue Star Memorial Marker was the latest addition to the museum and is located prominently at the museum's entrance, where the garden clubs also planted flowers as part of the memorial. It is the sixth Blue Star Memorial in Jefferson City and the 94th in the state.The dedication ceremony included the American Legion Riders, a presentation of colors, a guest speaker, and the marker unveiling and dedication, followed by the tribute of flowers.The Missouri National Guard Headquarters was chosen as the home for the prestigious plaque, and dedicated as part of the state and national garden club program that honors veterans by designating locations such as ISTS that are to be maintained in their honor. Garden clubs around the country have honored the military with Blue Star Memorials, dating back to the creation of a Blue Star Highway designation system in 1945.Brig. Gen. Gregory Mason, the assistant adjutant general of the Missouri Army National Guard, was the guest speaker, paying tribute to the military during the ceremony."The dedication of this marker is in appreciation of veterans and active service members of every war and combat deployment," said Mason. "Having this Blue Star Memorial Marker is the Missouri Guard's heart felt expression of appreciation."Jeanne Schwaller, with the Federated Garden Clubs of Missouri -- Capital Garden Club, said the organization's goal is to see these markers placed where ever there is an interest such as city parks and highways. The club's mission is personal to Schwaller because her husband and both brothers served in World War II."They all served in the war, they left and they all came home. We're not a gold star family, we are a blue star family," said Schwaller. "I think it's a fitting tribute to everyone who stands for our freedom, and this is how we show our show our appreciation."The process began when Jeremy Amick, a volunteer with Silver Star Families of America, contacted the local garden club.
"It was a bit of a surprise because generally Blue Star Memorials are put in by garden club members and it takes two or three years to get it done," said Schwaller. "In this case I got a call and within six months it's in and dedicated. The cooperation was just absolutely magnificent."Amick worked closely with the National Guard to make this lasting tribute. He said it was important to raise the funds and have a memorial at ISTS because an inordinate number of Missouri National Guard service members have historically served in the nation's wars."When you see these Blue Star Memorials throughout the state representing and honoring all those who serve in the armed forces it's only fitting that there be one here at Ike Skelton Training Site," said Amick.The marker is a central feature of the museum and serves as a lasting memorial available to the community year-round.