Blue Star Memorial in Portsmouth honors vets

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PORTSMOUTH — Carolyn Evans-Carbery said her father, who served in the Navy during World War II and whose name is listed inside Town Hall, would never talk about that war.

“My aunt, Mabel Fitzsimmons, would tell me that he left a boy and came back a man, but he was not the same,” she said. “The time spent in war was something kept deep inside of him — forever changing a boy to a man. There are so many men and women that have this same story and although we will never be privy to it, we need to give them the proper honor and thanks for giving us the freedom that we enjoy in the United States."

For her, that's accomplished by the Blue Star Memorial Marker, a year-long project for her that culminated Saturday with the Portsmouth Garden Club unveiling the sign at the Portsmouth Free Public Library while local veterans and veterans’ groups looked on.

Cub Scouts Pack 50, Patriot Guard Riders and the Newport Artillery Company were on hand to add a military touch to the dedication, and local military historian and author Frank Grzyb was among the speakers.

The Blue Star Memorial is one of three markers (Blue Star Highway Marker, Blue Star Bi-Way Marker and Blue Star Memorial Marker) used to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces that have served, are serving or will serve to protect our country.

A garden club is the only organization that can purchase the marker once it receives approval from National Garden Clubs, Inc. Once purchased, a garden club presents the marker to a military organization at a dedication.

The Portsmouth Garden Club purchased the marker through National Garden Clubs, Inc. after over a year of research, planning, and fund-raising by Ms. Evans-Carbery, the club’s civic beautification chairwoman. The $2,000 cost of the marker was financed primarily by the local garden club, with several club members also making their own donations. The American Legion-Post 18, VFW-Post 5390 and the VFW Ladies Auxiliary chipped in as well.

The town’s Public Works Department assisted with the installation of the marker, said Ms. Evans-Carbery, who noted that the dedication was flanked by Purple Heart Day (Aug. 7), Spirit of ’45 Day (Aug. 11), and Victory Day (Aug. 12).

“This was a stroke of luck and added such meaning to the day,” said Ms. Carbery, who took pride in the work she did to get a marker installed at the library.

"I firmly believe that this is the most important project that I will ever work on in my life.”

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