Here in my little city of Roanoke, Virginia where I grew up, a star has watched over the valley since 1949. Not just any star, but one that holds the claim to the world’s largest illuminated man-made free-standing star. Made of steel and concrete, the star has been considered a beacon of the city and on a clear night, the glow can be seen some fifty miles away.
So how did this come about? Back in the 1940′s, someone with a great sense of marketing proposed erecting the star to serve as a seasonal, Christmas decoration to shine over the city during the brisk holiday season. One assumes that people must’ve liked it as it still stands today, brightly lit every night since.
As a child I can remember always looking for the bright white star as nighttime approached. I can also remember the feeling of sadness when it went from white to red indicating a traffic fatality within the city. Since those days there’s been many changes to when it would be just white, or just red or red, white and blue. But regardless of the color, the star stands for a symbol of friendliness, industrial and civic progress as well as giving my little city the adopted nickname, Star City of the South.