Marker honors veterans at Scottsdale’s Railroad Park

Tempe has one, Ahwatukee has one and it was past time that Scottsdale had one, the leaders of two gardening communities believed.

A Blue Star Memorial marker was installed at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park on Oct. 30. The marker honors servicemen and servicewomen.

Scottsdale will dedicate the memorial marker during its Veteran’s Day program on Nov. 11.

The National Council of State Garden Clubs heads the program that places the Blue Star, which became an icon in World War II, in cemeteries, parks, veteran’s facilities and gardens.

“We felt we needed to be part of this program. Other communities have it and it’s about time Scottsdale did,” said Evie Campbell, president of the Scottsdale Garden Club.

The Scottsdale Garden Club partnered with the Old Town Scottsdale Garden Club with the support of the city of Scottsdale to raise $14,000 toward the memorial.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane suggested the railroad park as the site for the memorial. Campbell said the garden clubs also wanted the park because of its popularity. An educational plaque under the Blue Star sign explains its purpose.

Five servicemen attended the installation as garden club members urged them to smile for pictures while they hoisted the Blue Star plaque atop its post.

Gary Biggs, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War from 1966-69, approved of the subdued, Army-green coloring of the sign with the Blue Star.

“Wow, it’s impressive. A handsome looking piece,” he said.

He called the educational plaque at its base, a bonus. “People can’t relate to war even when you’re in the middle of one,” said Biggs, 71.

World War II veteran and Scottsdale resident, George Pillmore, who served in the Navy and stormed the beaches of Normandy during the bloody turning point of the war, agreed.

“It was staggering the amount of people we lost then. But young people, especially, don’t know anything about World War II anymore,” said Pillmore, 90. “You have to go to Europe and see the graveyards to really understand.”

In addition to the iconic Blue Star, the memorial includes Pistache trees that turn a bronze color in the fall, Lantana and Coralbells fill out the planter. Five stainless steel stars representing the five divisions of the armed services adorn the planter’s base.

The planter’s supporting brick structure with seating was completed by Site Design, a Paradise Valley landscape, architecture and planning firm.

Firm admininstrator Lisa Aquilina said the memorial is consistent with the look of the brick wall that surrounds the park and also the park’s Bil Keane statue and memorial, erected last year by the firm. Keane was the “Family Circus” cartoonist and a Paradise Valley resident.

“What we did with our design is try to incorporate a sense of place with the railroad park by keeping the planters consistent with other buildings and structures,”Aquilina said.

Scottsdale’s Veterans Day Program

What: Capt. Steven Borden, director of the Pat Tillman Veterans Center at Arizona State University, is the keynote speaker. Borden develops and evaluates veterans programs, increases recruitment and retention and maintains ASU’s reputation as a national leader in veteran services. Carol Mossholder, president of the Arizona Federation of Garden Clubs, also will be a featured speaker. A Blue Star Memorial Marker will be dedicated to honor servicemen and servicewomen. The 108th Army National Guard Band plays from 3 to 3:30 p.m.

When: 3 p.m. -4:30 p.m., Nov. 11

Where: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Road, 7301 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale.

Cost: Free.

Details: 480-312-2312 or scottsdaleaz.gov.

Other Northeast Valley Veterans Day Celebrations

Carefree

What: A musical tribute with the honor guard, a swing band performance, stories from veterans and a Heritage quilt will be on display. Attendees are asked to bring Packages From Home to send to troops.

When: 3 p.m.-5 p.m., Nov. 11

Where: Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion, Carefree Desert Gardens, 101 Easy St. Carefree.

Details: carefree.org.

Fountain Hills

What: Fountain Hills VFW Post 7507 is in charge of the ceremony and the Post’s Color Guard will render appropriate flag honors. The keynote speaker has not yet been identified.

When: 9 a.m. -10 a.m.

Where: Fountain Park Veteran’s Memorial, 17200 E. El Lago Blvd., Fountain Hills.

Details: fh.az.gov.

Paradise Valley

What: A free veterans appreciation vintage car show with a driving tour.

When: 8:30 a.m., Nov. 8.

Where: Paradise Valley Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

Details: ci.paradise-valley.az.us/

Daisy Mountain Veterans Parade

What: The parade starts at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church and ends at Anthem Community Center.

When: 10 a.m.-noon, Nov. 8.

Where: Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, 39808 N. Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem.

Details: 602-570-7602, daisymtnvets.org.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2014/10/31/new-blue-star-marker-honors-veterans-scottsdales-mccormick-stillman-railroad-park/18254131/