November 9, 2004
A memorial honoring veterans is alive and blooming.
After more than two years in the making, the Veterans Rose Garden will open to the public with a ceremony 10 a.m. Wednesday at Mesa Community College.
Located next to an existing rose garden at the college’s north entrance, the new garden is another project of the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society.
Behind a short white wall that faces Southern Avenue, five large circles of roses represent each branch of the U.S. military.
Patriotic names such as America, Peace, Mr. Lincoln, Purple Heart and Yankee Doodle identify the types of hybrid rose bushes within these circles.
About 600 red, yellow, white and orange roses — most bigger than a fist —emit an invigorating scent amid vibrant petals.
The area also includes a small terrace for presentations. Project organizers hope the community will use the garden for flag-raising and other patriotic ceremonies throughout the year.
"It’s an area people can enjoy roses with a little different connotation," said Mesa resident LeRoy Brady, who designed the rose garden. "It’s important to have this in Mesa and the East Valley."
The garden will soon bear a Blue Star Memorial Marker, a program started after World War II by the National Garden Clubs to remember military veterans along highways nationwide.
In 1996, non-highway sites such as veterans hospitals and national cemeteries became eligible to carry the marker. The National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, located near Cave Creek, is one example.
Irene Jensen, president of the Arizona Federation of Garden Clubs, helped make this new rose garden the seventh Arizona site with a memorial marker. A tentative dedication for the marker has been set for March.
"It’s for veterans from all wars and any future wars we might have," said Jensen, a Scottsdale resident. "I am glad we’re doing something that will be around for a long time."
Volunteers with the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society prune rose bushes at Mesa Community College every Saturday starting in January. To learn more about the society, call (480) 518-5126.