Museum receives first Blue Star marker in statePublished 9:21am Thursday, August 13, 2009
The Niles Garden Club has been welcoming visitors to Niles with colorful flowers and well maintained gardens around Niles for more than 50 years.
The club has also shown its support for those who serve in the military.
In 1950, The Niles Garden Club purchased a Blue Star Memorial Marker and placed it on US 31 at the Indiana/Michigan state line.
The Blue Star Memorial Marker program was developed by the National Garden Clubs, Inc. in 1945 to pay tribute to the Armed Forces that defended our country during World War II. It enlarged its mission in 1951 to include all men and women who had served, were serving or would serve in the armed forces of the United States.
The Niles’ marker was the first Blue Star Memorial Marker project in the State of Michigan and is also the southernmost marker in the state.
Eventually the highway was widened and the marker was moved to the corner of US 31 and Bertrand Road, prior to the establishment of any businesses there. Since then, the marker has remained in that second location at the edge of what is now the Burger King parking lot. Over the years, the original marker became weather-worn and fell into a bad state of disrepair.
Recently The Niles Garden Club voted to replace the original marker with a brand new one and to have it placed in a location more befitting to those who have honored our country with their service. The decision was made to put the new marker in the Donovan F. Smith Memorial Park near the Welcome to Niles Garden at the intersection of State Highway 51/US 31 at Main Street. This will create a visible and long-lasting tribute to our Armed Forces.
The original marker has been donated to the Fort St. Joseph Museum and may be viewed on the second floor.
The new marker will be arriving in early October. At that time, The Niles Garden Club will announce its plans for an official dedication ceremony and placement of the new Blue Star Memorial Marker.