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Christmas tree honoring fallen heroes, decorated in their memory at Peoria Riverfront

The holidays are an exciting time, but they can also be tough for those who may be missing family;
especially ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice to our country.

That’s why each year, a special Christmas tree is lit and decorated with the pictures of fallen service members.

During an annual ceremony Saturday at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, sponsored by America’s Gold Star Faml the families of those who passed away while serving, were joined by the public, to honor their family members’ courage and sacrifice.

Duane Baker was among those at the ceremony, placing his son, Daniel Baker’s photo on the tree.

Baker, a Tremont native and Marine, died in 2013 after serving about two and a half years. He’d only been out of high school for a year when he joined.

As Duane Baker spoke about his son, he drew in a long pause and a brief smile, talking about the tragic incident that killed his son and other members of his crew- while sharing empathy for other grieving families. “Everyone has lost someone- whether it’s military or not. It’s a tough time of year as we think of those who should be filling the empty chair.” 

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the tree, was Jerome Maddox, doing the very same thing as the Bakers.

Jerome’s son Sgt. Anthony Maddox, of the U.S. army was killed July 22, 2013 during a fueling accident in Afghanistan.

“He was a very quiet individual but had a wonderful smile. He lit up the room when he walked in.” Jerome Maddox said reminiscently.

This is the 2nd year the event has been held at the Riverfront Museum and the fourth year overall.

25 News thanks the families of all fallen heroes, veterans and active service members for their dedication and sacrifice to America

Lauren Melendez

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