Article Contributed by
Blue Star Mothers
New York Chapter 4
After a year of COVID-related interruption, the Blue Star Mothers New York Chapter 4 will resume its Annual Gold Star Memorial Remembrance Ceremony on Saturday, May 29, 2021, at 10AM at Veterans Memorial Park on West Third and Logan Streets in Jamestown, NY. Held annually on the Saturday before Memorial Day, the Blue Star Mothers will this year again honor in remembrance those Western New York residents who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the United States by memorializing them and acknowledging their Gold Star families left behind. Originally established in May of 2013, and desiring that these sacrifices never be forgotten, the local Blue Star Mothers Chapter has secured this privilege of commemorating Western New York’s local Gold Star families in this meaningful and enduring way with a memorial display, serving as a daily visual remembrance of these heroes. This memorial established by the Blue Star Mothers at Veterans Memorial Park includes a rock with a bronze plaque honoring the fallen, surrounded by annually-flowering cherry trees, bearing living testament to the sacrifices made.
The Gold Star designation recognizes the immediate family members of one who was killed or who died while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States, while the Blue Star designation recognizes the family of one in active military service. The Blue Star Mothers strive to honor the Gold Star Families with great respect and appreciation for those family members left behind and with the greatest reverence for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation.
The 10AM ceremony will include the presence of many local dignitaries including: NYS Assemblyman Andrew Goodell; NYS Senator George Borrello; Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendell; a representative from US Representative Tom Reed’s office; Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist; and former NYS Senator Cathy Young. A Color Guard, traditional three-volley salute, and playing of Taps will be presented by local veterans organizations. The participation of the local Patriot Guard, solemn musical tributes, and a bagpipe benediction will also be included in the program. Along with memorial wreaths, the release of a white balloon following the reading of each local hero’s name will symbolize our community’s gratitude, as an act of solemn tribute to each hero.
Keynote speaker for the memorial dedication will be Holly Baker, past president of the American Gold Star Mothers of New York, and the proud mother of SGT Brian K. Baker who was killed in action while serving in the U.S. Army in Baghdad, Iraq. Mrs. Baker has been the recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution Patriotism Award, Firefighter of the Year Award, and YWCA Leadership Award for Volunteerism. She volunteers hundreds of hours in her community of Springville, NY in service to veterans, supporting active duty service members, and providing support and comfort to other Gold Star Family members. Currently, Mrs. Baker is Senior Safety Engineer at Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES. Mrs. Baker and her husband Gregory have five children and 12 grandchildren.
This year the Memorial Ceremony will include the presentation of an American flag and a signed certificate by MSgt Jose Pagan, First Sergeant in the Air Force Reserves. MSgt Pagan recently returned from a deployment during which the Blue Star Mothers were privileged to send packages and notes of care and support. The flag, flown over Syria and Iraq by the 1st Expeditionary Rescue Group, will be presented by MSgt Pagan in appreciation for the support the Group received during this deployment. MSgt Pagan is with the 914th ARW at the Niagara Falls Air Base.
The public is invited to attend this ceremony and dedication honoring those whose sacrifices must never be forgotten. Seating will be limited to the honorees, so those in attendance are requested to bring a chair and umbrella if necessary.
Since its inception during WWII, the national Blue Star Mothers organization has existed to provide support for active duty service personnel, as well as to promote patriotism and assist veterans organizations in our communities. Membership in the Blue Star Mothers includes those who now have or have had children honorably serving in the US Military. Chautauqua County’s local chapter (NY Chapter 4) has been actively pursuing opportunities to provide tangible and emotional support to military personnel and their families since 2007.
For those interested in knowing more about the mission of the Blue Star Mothers, please email Susan Rowley at [email protected], or phone (716) 499-6897.