SPIVEY’S CORNER — A crowd gathered along a stretch of busy roadway in northern Sampson County, at the hollerin’ capital of the universe, to give a shout-out to Armed Forces veterans who have served this country through the years.
The sixth annual Memorial Day Ceremony, sponsored by Just-A-Mere Garden Club, was held Thursday evening at the grounds of the Spivey’s Corner Volunteer Fire Department. The brief ceremony took place at the Blue Star Memorial, a National Garden Clubs Inc. endeavor whose signs pay tribute to members of the military.
Beverly Warren Best welcomed everybody to Thursday’s ceremony and said that it was an honor to hold an event that recognizes veterans and be able to do it at Spivey Corner’s own Blue Star Memorial. The marker is located just off U.S. 13, near the busy crossroads with U.S. 421. Many motorists, notably soldiers stationed at military facilities in Fayetteville, travel the stretch of U.S. 13 through Sampson, Best noted.
“This highway (U.S. 13) serves soldiers in Fort Bragg, and we’re so happy that we can have this here,” said Best, who expressed gratitude to the Spivey’s Corner Woodmen of the World Lodge 1034 for helping to get the Blue Star tribute in Spivey’s Corner years ago.
The Blue Star Memorial Program began with the planting of 8,000 Dogwood trees by the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs in 1944 as a living memorial to veterans of World War II. The next year, the National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted the program and began a Blue Star Highway system that covers thousands of miles across the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii.
Large metal markers bearing the blue star — an icon in World War II that graced banners and flags at homes to indicate sons and daughters away at war — began dotting those highways along the way.
“We’re honored to have a Blue Star Memorial at Spivey’s Corner,” Dixie Honeycutt, one of the event’s organizers, said. “There’s not that many in our state. It’s quite an honor for us to have that and for our community to be a part of it.”
At the local ceremony, Boy Scout Troop 55 presented and retired the colors and Eagle Scout Logan Blackburn led a gathered crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Miss Spivey’s Corner 2018 Madison Bryant sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and led attendees in a rendition of “God Bless America,” with Rita Wilson encouraging everyone to wave small American flags that were distributed, courtesy of Woodmen of the World.
Kenneth Ray Jackson, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6767, alongside members of Boy Scout Troop 55, placed a wreath at the foot of the Blue Star marker . Wilson presided over the military tribute and flag honor guard, as those veterans in attendance were recognized by their branch of service.
The ceremony concluded with a three-volley rifle salute and the playing of Taps by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 990. An ice cream social hosted by the local Woodmen of the World chapter followed.
“I think it’s such a wonderful thing for our community,” Honeycutt said. “The thing that has thrilled me is the excitement of the veteran themselves. It’s such a small tribute for us to pay.”