Blaine Veterans Memorial to unveil monument dedicated to children of fallen service members

Blaine Veterans Memorial to unveil monument dedicated to children of fallen service members

Blaine Veterans Memorial to unveil monument dedicated to children of fallen service members

The Blaine Veterans Memorial is getting ready to unveil a new monument this Memorial Day, dedicated to the children of fallen service members.

“It’s called the Gold Star Children’s Statue,” said Steve Guider, committee president of Blaine’s Veterans Memorial Park. “It should be a pretty unbelievable moment.”

Guider said the monument will be the first of its kind in Minnesota.

The idea for it came during a Memorial Day service two years ago.

“We were honoring Tom Valentine, a very elite Navy SEAL. He had nine tours of duty and was preparing for his tenth when he was killed during a HALO jump,” Guider explained. “During the ceremony that day, his daughter Meghan was presented with his burial flag. She was holding the flag across her chest. Her head was back and her eyes were closed.”

Star Tribune photographer Elizabeth Flores captured the image, which was shared with 5 EYEWITNESS News.

“It was one of the most unbelievable pictures I’ve ever seen. To see these young girls receive these flags from their fathers, I can’t describe the feeling. We were like, okay, we need to do something to honor these kids,” Guider said.

The new statue will be made in the likeness of the photo and stand about five feet tall, dedicated to all children who have lost parents while serving in the military.

“Obviously the soldiers make sacrifices but these families make incredible sacrifices as well,” Guider said.

The new statue is part of a big expansion at Veterans Memorial Park, which has slowly grown ever since it first opened five years ago.

The park now includes seven structures, including laser-engraved monuments for each major war.

Three more monuments are expected to be added this summer, including one dedicated to women in service and another for prisoners of war and those missing in action.

“This is a place for heroes,” Guider said. “You’re a hero to me if you signed the line and served this country.”

The park has been a welcoming place for military families, including those impacted by suicide.

“It’s a struggle. Every day is a struggle,” said Joan Ericksen, a mother from Blaine.

Her son, Sam Peterson, graduated from Blaine High School in 2014 and served in the Marines as a corporal on a special response team.

“They’re indestructible. We look at them, they’re our heroes. But no matter how strong you appear, there could be a lot more going on behind the scenes,” Ericksen said.

Peterson died by suicide at the age of 21.

He will also be honored at this year’s Memorial Day ceremony.

“It’s nice to get his name out there, get his story out there, have more people aware of the struggles,” Ericksen said.

Guider added, “To be able to do something like this, to be able to give back to all these people who have fought and served is an incredible honor.”

The Memorial Day Ceremony at the Blaine Veterans Memorial begins at 2 p.m. on Monday.

Organizers are also raising money to build eight more monuments at the park, including a Vietnam Soldier Statue and Fallen Soldier Memorial.

You can learn more here and donate by reaching out to Steve Guider via email: or phone: 763-234-3111