Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council dedicates a Blue Star Memorial Marker

On October 10, 2014, the Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council, in cooperation with the Lee County Port Authority, dedicated a Blue Star Memorial Marker in honor of the armed forces that have defended the United States. The ceremony took place in front of  the Page Field Base Operations Building at 10:00 AM.

Page Field Base of Operations operated by the Lee County Port Authority

An AT-6 Texan aircraft used to train fighter pilots 
during World War II
The plane was so important to the war effort that it was dubbed, “The Pilot Maker.” The plane is on display  at Page Field to honor the bravery, sacrifice and patriotism of fighter pilots during the war.

Page Field was named after Captain Channing Page, a local World War I flying ace and the first Floridian to receive a commission in the Army Air Corps. The young captain  also received the American Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.  A war hero and aviation pioneer, Page died in a plane crash in 1920 at the age of twenty-seven. 

Page Field has a long history of service, both to the nation and Southwest Florida. Built as a civil airport in 1927, it was appropriated by the War Department at the beginning of World War II and was used by the US Army Air Force for antisubmarine patrols and conventional bomber training. It was returned to civil control of the State of Florida and then Lee County after the end of the war.  

Guests begin to gather in front of the terminal before the dedication ceremony. 

Mae Jean Nothstine, Mistress of Ceremonies and Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council officer, spearheaded the effort to have the Blue Star Memorial Marker installed in front of 
the Page Field Terminal.

The Color Guard of VFW Post 8463 participated in the ceremony.

The Posting of the Colors for the Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance by the Color Guard

Mae Jean reciting the Pledge of Allegiance

The audience during the Pledge of Allegiance

Pastor Steve Hess, Retired Chaplain, giving the invocation

The audience during the invocation

Paula Novander, Garden Council 1st Vice-President, discusses the history of the Blue Star Memorial Marker

The National Council of State Garden Clubs, now known as National Garden Clubs, Inc., started the Blue Star program in 1945 to honor the servicemen and women of the U.S. armed forces. The National Council wanted to memorialize veterans by means of the markers, but also to encourage beautification programs through memorial plantings of native trees and shrubs along with the markers. 

The audience, with Berne Davis sitting the 2nd from the left in the front row

Dr. Douglas Renfroe, bass-baritone soloist and Artistic Director of “Voices of Naples,” first relates the history of our national anthem and then sings the anthem.

Color Guard during the National Anthem

The audience during the National Anthem 

Commissioner Cecil Pendergass, (ctr-left) Robert M. Ball, Port Authority Executive Director (ctr-right)  and Debbie Wyatt-Stotter, President, Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council (right)  among the onlookers  during the National Anthem

Robert Ball, Debbie Wyatt-Stotter and Mae Jean unveiling the marker

Finishing the unveiling
A blue star is the centerpiece of the memorial sign because it symbolizes the blue star on the World War II service flag.  During the war, the service flag  bore one blue star to represent each family member serving in the U.S. military and was prominently displayed in the home.

Robert M. Ball, Port Authority Executive Director, makes the official acceptance of the marker.

Debbie Wyatt-Stotter, President, Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council, officially dedicates the marker

The Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council is continuing the Blue Star tradition by dedicating  the Blue Star Memorial Marker to the US military who have served at Page Field Base Operations and also by landscaping the setting in which the marker is placed with diversified indigenous trees and shrubs.

Debbie is standing behind Kay Holloway and Berne Davis.


Winnie Stone approaches the podium to place a wreath at the marker.

Winnie Stone speaks about the war years at Page Field.
Her husband was a communications officer during the war.

Dr. Renfroe closes the ceremony with “America the Beautiful.”

Blue Star Memorial Marker with wreath

Berne Davis, the “First Lady of Fort Myers,”
 is a benefactor of the arts and supporter of Garden Clubs at all levels.

Bernadette and David Hamera

Winnie and Jean Shields

Laura Jibben and Debbie Hughes

Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass

Desk in the Base Ops Terminal

The Lobby of the Terminal

The Lobby with war time photos, left wall

The Lobby with wartime photos, right wall

P51-D Mustang replica suspended from the ceiling

Placard for Mustang

Looking out from the Lobby toward the air field

1937 Ford Five-window Coupe

Three-speed manual Ford Coupe in “Dearborn Blue”

Refreshment Table

Patriotic-themed decorations at the refreshment table

Sandy Kavouras, Theo Kavouras and  Debbie Hughes

Dr. Renfroe

Winnie & Laura

Marty Ward, in charge of refreshments, and Periwinkle Garden Club members
Terrilynn Dunford and Edie Marie Rattner

Berne Davis and Winnie Stone

Mitzi Marckesano and Paula

Mae Jean, Paula, Glenda Dawson and Garden Club of Cape Coral
hostesses Kathy Rabassi (behind Mae Jean) and Charlene Anderson (on right.)

Blue Star Memorial Marker

Blue Star Memorial Marker and Wreath
October 10, 2014