Events honor soldiers killed in combat
Sacrifice. Courage. Honor. Tradition. Service. Freedom. Democracy. These words were invoked throughout Memorial Day by servicemen and the friends and family that support them.Ernie Brown is an Edwards resident who fought in the Navy during World War II. To him, Memorial Day means remembering his buddies and the sacrifices they made.A recent Gallup Poll reports only 28 percent of people know the true meaning of Memorial Day. At a Monday afternoon Memorial Day ceremony organized by the 10th Mountain Division Foundation, Col. Michael Kershaw, who cited the poll, said most people confuse it with Veterans’ Day.Kershaw spoke to a crowd of about 150 people that gathered at the War Memorial Monument at Tennessee Pass near Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Division soldiers trained.”Your patriotism in this ceremony helps our country put ‘memorial’ back in Memorial Day,” said Kershaw, the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, stationed in Fort Drum, N.Y.”It’s more than just a day off,” he said.
The day is a sacred memorial for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country past and present, Kershaw said. For example, he said, about 2,300 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq and 600 in Afghanistan since the war on terror started. Kershaw spoke about the need for current and retired servicemen to do more to keep up the tradition of service among the young people of this nation. “Without a doubt, it is the brave men and women that carry freedom forward,” Kershaw said.Although many people bemoan the youth of this age, Kershaw said, the fighting and dying is done by mostly young people. “This is a great generation,” he said, which prompted a round of applause. Along with Kershaw’s speech, the ceremony also featured the laying of wreaths at the foot of the monument, a color guard consisting of two soldiers and two veterans who placed the American flag and the 10th Mountain Division flag on either side of the monument, taps performed by official bugler John Raabe, and a 21-round rifle salute.
Rossi Moreau said he didn’t want to come to the ceremony, but his friends pushed him. “This is very difficult for me,” said Moreau, who was dressed in his camouflage uniform and black combat boots. “I’ve been doing this for a ton of years, and every year it gets harder … It’s starting to cost me more and more.”Moreau’s father died last year from Alzheimer’s. A veteran, his father dreamt about World War II often, having fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Following in his father’s footsteps, Moreau volunteered to fight in Vietnam. He said he now carries a bullet wound on his left shoulder, the left side of his face is held together with staples, his body still contains shrapnel, and he has to take pills ever four hours to “maintain a level of sanity.” “You know what? I’m still here. I survived,” said Moreau, whose left leg is covered in tattoos of badges he’s earned, including a Purple Heart. He said his passion for skiing kept him alive after his return.
Members of a local chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars placed flags on the graves of fallen servicemen in local cemeteries in Minturn and Red Cliff after having a group breakfast at Denny’s in Avon. The organization is for veterans who have fought overseas.The active group members include three women and retired servicemen from various military units who fought in different wars, as well as one who was a prisoner of war for five and a half years in Vietnam. Showing a level of closeness, the veterans teased each other and joked around while waiting for their meal. One said the only reason he joined the military was because he daydreamed too much in class (“What I’m saying is I flunked out of school and I had no choices”). Others teased a member for being the only Democrat in the group.”It really is a band of brothers,” said Kenton Krohlow, a Veterans of Foreign Wars member who was in the 1st Calvary in Vietnam. “There is a camaraderie, and I think it comes from being in combat.”
Krohlow said the media has unfairly portrayed Vietnam veterans as crazy.”We’re productive members of society,” he said, pointing out that many Veterans of Foreign Wars have their own businesses. “We’ve come back. We’ve adjusted.”Nic Corbett can be reached at email@example.comVail, Colorado
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