Honoring veterans at the library
Estero Island Garden Club dedicates Blue Star Memorial Marker
The Estero Island Garden Club got the jump on Memorial Day this past weekend with a tribute to veterans outside the Fort Myers Beach Public Library with the dedication of a Blue Star Memorial marker.
In a ceremony held Saturday morning in front of the library with military songs by a brass band, the posting of colors by the Cypress Lake High School Reserve Officer Training Corps and the singing of “God Bless America” and “Proud to be an American,” the club brought together several dozen people.
The marker was purchased with a donation from garden club member Polky Ashford and her husband Tom, of Fort Myers Beach. Tom Ashford said other members of his family also contributed.
The marker was important to Tom Ashford and his family. He spoke about the military service of his father George H. Ashford, who was killed in World War 2. Tom Ashford was only a toddler when his father died.
Ashford’s father was a co-pilot of a B-17 bomber on his fourth mission over Germany when he was shot down. “Everyone was killed except the pilot,” Ashford said.
“In 2006, we made a trip to Europe and I found the town where the plane was shot down,” he said. Ashford said when the bomber crashed in Germany, the townspeople buried those who were on board in the forest. “It was dug up and taken to Belgium where he was buried,” he said. In 1952, he was brought back to Kentucky.
The marker was secured through the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. Marjorie Hendon, president of the statewide federation, said the marker will be a “constant reminder of the sacrifice made by the valiant men and women being honored here today. She spoke of the honoring of veterans by stating “we must never take them for granted and we must never forget them.”
Mayor Ray Murphy spoke about the history of the blue star going back to World War 2, when families of those serving would post flags with blue stars outside their homes. Murphy’s father John served during World War 2 in the Army.
“It was an honor for me to be here to honor our veterans both alive and deceased and active servicemembers who have sacrificed so we can be free,” Murphy said.