Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Friday, June 22, 2012

Baker should be in Hall of Honor - Quad Cities Online.
We Honor All Vets When We Honor One

Baker should be in Hall of Honor - Quad Cities Online:

Moline High School administrators and retiring principal Bill Burrus got it right. Now it's time for the school's Hall of Honor to follow suit.

Sgt. John F. Baker, who was 66 when he died in January, deserved his high school diploma and posthumously will receive it Monday. The next step is to place Baker's name among the other greats who graduated from Moline High.

The contribution Sgt. Baker made to his country through his service is well known. In discussions with Sgt. Baker through the years, I learned he hoped to get his high school diploma and someday make it into Moline's Hall of Honor, though he knew those dreams might never come true.

I found it odd that a man as highly decorated as one can be for service to his country, wanted to be recognized by his high school and the community where he was raised. A man respected everywhere he turned as a Medal of Honor recipient was not appreciated at home.

It puzzled him at times, but it did not stop him from moving forward with his life. Still, he wanted to be recognized at home.

Enter a local veterans group that appreciated Sgt. Baker's trials and worked to break down barriers between Sgt. Baker and our community.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 299 was the driving force behind the local recognition Sgt. Baker received. Chapter members appealed to legislators to have the Interstate 280 bridge named after Sgt. Baker, and worked with Jumer's Casino for the

veteran's monument detailing Sgt. Baker's accomplishments.

It was Chapter 299 that asked Bill Burrus to help Sgt. Baker, albeit posthumously, receive his diploma.

Now the ball is back in the hands of the committee that selects Hall of Honor recipients for Moline High School.

The technicality of Sgt. Baker only having an honorary diploma from Moline is no longer an issue, a wall that should never been there in the first place.

It's time for that group to do the right thing. It would give some positive closure to a situation that has hung over many heads for years.

A Medal of Honor recipient is certainly worthy of induction to any school's hall of honor.

Monday, Moline High School will take the first step by awarding Sgt. Baker's family his diploma.

The school's Hall of Honor is now on the clock.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or

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