Community members and veterans gather around Mike Baxter, center, who receives a Gold Star Banner from the Blue Star Mothers on Memorial Day honoring his late brother Jerry Baxter who was killed in Vietnam March 27, 1969. Photo by Sam Williams

Community honors departed veterans on Memorial Day

A smaller than usual crowd of Susanville residents braved chilly temperatures and the threat of rain at Diamond Crest Cemetery to honor our community’s and our nation’s fallen veterans on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27.

Larry Rogers, from the Tommy Tucker Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars served as master of ceremonies and he said those attending already knew why they were here.

“We’re here to remember those who came before us and are now in hallowed ground,” Rogers said.

He lamented the Avenue of Flags, made up by more than 300 donated flags that once draped the caskets of local veterans would not be on display this Memorial Day due to the inclement weather. He said those flags are not all weather flags and they would be damaged by the rain.

“We take very seriously the honor to keep them in our care,” Rogers said. “We’ve been watching today, and should we get some raindrops on those flags, they would be destroyed, and we don’t want that to happen.”

He also said the local American Legion is 100 years old this year, and next year the Veterans of Foreign Wars post will be 100 years old as well.

 

Blue Star Moms present Gold Star Banner to Mike Baxter

Christine Boyd, president of the local Soaring Eagle Blue Star Mothers, and the Blue Star Moms presented a Gold Star Banner to Mike Baxter, honoring the service of his brother, Jerry Baxter, who was killed in action in Vietnam on March 27, 1969.

Blue Star Banners honor family members currently serving, but Gold Star Banners honor those who gave their lives protecting our freedom.

Boyd said the gold star stands for “sacrifice in the cause of liberty and freedom. As your star turns to gold, we will always remember your supreme sacrifice.”

“Thank you for this wonderful tribute to my brother,” Baxter said. “Jerry was my big brother. He was the best. He was a people person. He put other people ahead of himself.”

Baxter said he was thankful to be here today, not only to honor his brother, but to honor all the other veterans “who keep our country free so we can enjoy all the blessings that go along with that.”

Baxter said his brother answered the nation’s call and volunteered for advanced training in helicopters.

“Sometimes it seems like a long time ago, and sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday,” Baxter said. “He was shot down in March of 1969 and killed instantly … Jerry’s death wasn’t in vain. He died doing what he wanted to do, which was serving his country so we could all be free people. He died very honorably. He wanted this more than anything.”

He said his brother’s death was devastating to the family, especially his mother.

“I loved my brother and I very much respected what he did,” Baxter said. “I was very much in favor of the cause he was fighting for.

Baxter thanked the Blue Star Moms for the honor they bestowed by recognizing his brother’s sacrifice 50 years ago.

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