Vail Valley’s fallen first responders honored at Ride in Remembrance
‘Our memories keep them alive’
There’s a difference between remembering and never forgetting. The annual Ride in Remembrance focuses on the memory of local first responders who fell in the line of duty.
A group of Eagle County first responders, military veterans, friends, relatives and others gathered Wednesday for the annual Ride in Remembrance from Freedom Park in Edwards to Donovan Pavilion in Vail.
Longtime local resident Pete Thompson, one of the valley’s many military veterans, was among the motorcyclists sandwiched between a long line of emergency vehicles. Many of those who rode or drove were members of the local branch of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“We’re honored to ride with all these first responders,” Thompson said.
Fellow veteran Jerry Greven added that there’s a connection between military veterans and first responders. The ride helps cement that connection.
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The Ride in Remembrance connection extends more deeply than that.
“It’s nice we can meet and remember again,” Amber Droegmeier of the Vail Public Safety Communications Center said during her remarks. Those gathered Wednesday remember the impact loss has on coworkers, friends and family, Droegmeier said. But there’s also joy in the memory of those who have fallen, she added.
After the ceremony, with the names of the fallen read aloud, followed by the toll of a single bell, people gathered for lunch, with people from the Vail Public Works Department running the grills.
Eagle County Emergency Coordinator Birch Barron also spoke during the ceremony, urging those who know first responders to reach out and ask them how they’re holding up, particularly after an especially strenuous year.
Over lunch, Barron noted this was his first Ride in Remembrance. Honoring the sacrifice of the fallen, and honoring their memory, is a great opportunity, he said.
During lunch, Droegmeier said the ride is an opportunity to gather people from different walks of life, to allow those people to share their common grief and share the importance of those who were lost.
In that way, those who were lost remain among us.
“Our memories keep them alive,” Rabbi Joel Newman said during his closing remarks.
Deputy Oscar William Meyer. End of watch: Nov. 2, 1936.
Deputy John Fletcher Clark. End of watch: July 12, 1961.
Gypsum firefighter Cruz Carbajal. End of watch: Jan, 4, 1993.
Vail police officer Ryan Jay Cunningham. End of watch: May 6, 2001.
Air ambulance pilot Tim Benway. End of watch: Jan. 11, 2005.
Colorado State Patrol trooper Jaimie Jersevics. End of watch: Nov. 15, 2015.
Colorado Department of Transportation employee and Gypsum firefighter Eric Dean Hill. End of watch: March 16, 2019.