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Gold Star Memorial Remembrance Ceremony to resume Saturday, May 29

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, at 10 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park on West Third and Logan streets in Jamestown.

Held annually the Saturday before Memorial Day, the Blue Star Mothers will honor in remembrance those Western New York residents who have died in the service of the United States by memorializing them and acknowledging their Gold Star families left behind. Originally established in May 2013, and desiring that these sacrifices never be forgotten, the local Blue Star Mothers Chapter has secured the privilege of commemorating Western New York’s local Gold Star families with a memorial display, serving as a daily visual remembrance. The 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 10 a.m. ceremony will include the presence of many local dignitaries including: state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown; state Sen.George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay; County Executive PJ Wendel; a representative from U.S. Rep. Tom Reed’s office; Mayor Eddie Sundquist; and former state Sen. 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 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 Springville in service to veterans, supporting active duty service members, and providing support and comfort to other Gold Star Family members. 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. Pagan recently returned from a deployment during which the Blue Star Mothers sent packages and notes of care and support. The flag, flown over Syria and Iraq by the 1st Expeditionary Rescue Group, will be presented by Pagan in appreciation for the support the Group received during this deployment. Pagan is with the 914th ARW at the Niagara Falls Air Base.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony. Seating will be limited to the honorees, so those in attendance are requested to bring a chair and umbrella if necessary.

Chautauqua County’s local Blue Star Mothers chapter (NY Chapter 4) has been actively pursuing opportunities to provide tangible and emotional support to military personnel and their families since 2007. For more information, email Susan Rowley at bluestamothersny4@yahoo.com or call 499-6897.

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