Memorial honoring James Baker unveiled in Houston

October 26, 2010 1:48:40 PM PDT
He has served four presidents and his family has played a major role in the growth of Houston. Now the city is giving back to former Secretary of State James Baker by honoring him with a monument. In a dedication ceremony Tuesday, the $1.2 million statue was unveiled. The statue was given to the city through private donations. The city of Houston provided just the space for it, in an area now called Baker Common.

The goal is to honor Secretary Baker and his legacy, and along with the statue, there are plaques honoring his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, who together with James Baker III have made numerous contributions to Houston. His grandfather, Captain James Baker is credited with saving Rice University from an embezzlement scheme, and where the former secretary serves as honorary chair of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

Baker's career is vast and unique. He served as Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush, whose statue is also located in this park. He was also Bush 41's Chief of Staff, a position he previously held under President Ronald Reagan, and under Reagan he also served as Secretary of the Treasury.

During his career, Baker led efforts to unify Germany after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. He assembled the international coalition that forced Saddam Hussein's troops from Kuwait after Iraq invaded that country in 1990, and forged the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, which was the first time that Israel and its Arab neighbors met face-to-face to negotiate peace.

In spite of his lifetime of achievements, Baker's son says his father is especially touched to have this honor in Houston.

"It's such a gracious gesture on the part of the city to do this, to honor our family, particularly my father. Houston has been such an important part of his life and for him to be recognized in this fashion is really just a great honor," said Jamie Baker.

Even at age 80, the word retirement doesn't seem to be in Baker's vocabulary. He currently serves as special counsel to St. Martin's Episcopal Church, where he was a member of the vestry.


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