Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee stands next to a marker honoring American military veterans during a Blue Star Memorial Ceremony at City Hall. The event was sponsored by the Council of Garden Clubs of Laurel and Jones County. The Blue Star Memorial Program honors all men and women who serve in the United States military. The program began in New Jersey in 1944 when 8,000 dogwoods were planted as a living memorial to veterans of World War II. In 1945 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. Today, the program has expanded to include all men and women who have served or are serving in the armed services of the United States. Memorial markers and by-way markers were added to highway markers to be used at locations such as national cemeteries, parks, veterans’ facilities and other public buildings.