The price of peace has a long memory. From the crosses that mark the sloping hills of Arlington Cemetery to a personal memorial in the hills of Kennewick’s Badger Canyon, America’s heroes are not forgotten.
“I put the flagpole up in the first two years after moving here,” says Jerry Bickford about the two flags that have flown in front of his country home since 2007. “It’s my way of honoring our veterans and our military for their service and sacrifice.”
The Vietnam-era veteran understands freedom – and its cost. Not only does he fly The American flag, but also the black POW/MIA Flag waves just below it, a tribute to those who never came home.
“We had high school classmates that lost their lives in the war,” recalls the retired Seattle Police Department detective sergeant. “Ballard high school had such a large senior class with probably over 900 graduating.”
Like many of his classmates, Jerry joined the U.S. Army upon graduation in 1965, for him a family military tradition of service dating back to his grandfather in WWI.
“He was a dispatch rider and rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles with side cars in France,” remembers Jerry. “The army couldn’t depend on pigeons or the telephone service, so his job was to deliver dispatches between units.”
An old black and white photo of Jerry’s grandfather shows a group of fresh-faced young men willing to ride into danger on the countryside of France; patriotism astride a Harley back in 1918 and now by his grandson.
Jerry, who is a 30-year member of the American Legion, rides his own Harley-Davidson in Veterans Day parades with Tri-Cities area Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, a group that actively supports veterans.
Jerry and the other motorcyclists carry Old Glory in remembrance. At his home The Stars and Stripes, along with the POW/MIA Flag, fly proudly 365-days a year – in all kinds of weather.
“When they’re a little wind-blown they remind me of flags that flew at Iwo Jima in WWII, Khe Sanh in Viet Nam,” the 67-year old says with emotion.
Blowing in the wind, they’re a faithful testament to the brave heroes who have brought peace – at a price. A price Jerry Bickford hopes we will never forget.
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