By Stefanie Donahue
A serene crowd filled the corner of H and Third streets last week to join in an honorary ceremony dedicated to the men and woman who have risked it all to serve the nation.
The ceremony was presented by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Custer-based Post 9474 and featured the dedication of a battlefield cross memorial installed on November 7. The memorial’s design was selected and inspired by late Blaine resident and Vietnam veteran, Wesley “Wes” Thompson.
The memorial honors all veterans and is emblazoned with the words, “In gratitude to all members of the United States Military for their personal sacrifice made for our country dedicated November 11 2016.”
Historically, the battlefield cross is placed before a soldier who has been killed at war. A traditional battlefield cross features a rifle hoisted between the soldiers boots to form the look of a cross. Often the soldier’s helmet, dog tag or other personal items will sit on top.
Thompson chose the design featured in Blaine’s memorial because of its authenticity to the gear he wore in Vietnam, said his daughter Christie Rector. Post 9474 raised $10,000 to get the memorial, she said.
At the November 11 ceremony, she wore her father’s dog tag in
Thomson passed away in June 2015. He was raised in Blaine and graduated from Blaine High School in 1964. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966 and served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968.
Thompson went on to become an active member with VFW Post 9474 and later won the Award of Outstanding Post Commander. He was also a member of the Whatcom Allied Veterans Council. He was fondly remembered by his family, friends and colleagues.
Chaplain for VFW District 15 and Post 9474, Alfred Shaulis knew Thompson well.
“He was very special in my book,” he said.
Editor’s note: In the November 10 issue, The Northern Light misstated the VFW chapter responsible for the facilitating the installation and purchasing of the battlefield cross memorial. We regret the error and have since updated the original story on our website to reflect VFW Post 9474 as the involved party.