Grieving and gratitude: 14th annual Freedom Park Memorial Day ceremony celebrated both dead and living veterans | VailDaily.com

Grieving and gratitude: 14th annual Freedom Park Memorial Day ceremony celebrated both dead and living veterans

EDWARDS — While Memorial Day is a celebration of those who died in the line of service, many ceremonies also recognize war veterans who are still alive.

The Monday, May 28, Freedom Park Memorial Day event was one of those ceremonies.

Freedom Park Memorial Committee chair Pat Hammon, herself a Vietnam veteran, was grateful to have World War II veteran Mac McMakin in attendance.

"We don't have very many World War II vets left, I'm afraid they're leaving us in rapid numbers across the United States," Hammon told the crowd.

“My aim, my drive was to be a pilot, and that’s why I feel so greatly for the services, because I never could have afforded the training I got, to learn to fly.”Mac McMakinWorld War II veteran

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McMakin is himself an embodiment of freedom. As a pilot, he has experienced one of the ultimate feelings of freedom in flying through the skies.

"My aim, my drive was to be a pilot, and that's why I feel so greatly for the services, because I never could have afforded the training I got, to learn to fly," McMakin said from Freedom Park on Monday.

FREEDOM TO DISAGREE

McMakin is also not afraid to vocalize his freedom to disagree with the conflicts the U.S. became involved in following World War II. He said he came to dislike the armed services after leaving the military.

"I don't think they ever continued to fight to win," he said.

McMakin flew a chartered airplane in the Vietnam war.

"I was still able to help, but not in the service," he said.

McMakin continued to fly another 30 years following the Vietnam war, flying gliders after he because too old to operate aircraft with engines.

"My feelings are very grateful for the Air Force," he said.

FAMILY TIME

Hammon said in addition to honoring veterans, Memorial Day is also a time for families to enjoy each other's company.

Vail parent Carl Mueller said he was grateful for the time he was able to spend with his son, 13-year-old Peter Mueller, over the Memorial Day weekend.

The Muellers visited Greenwood Cemetery, just outside of Red Cliff, and cleaned up grave sites of veterans going back to the Civil War.

"It's an amazing place, a treasure," Mueller said of Greenwood Cemetery. "It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it."

Peter Mueller is a Boy Scout with Troop 231, with which he became involved several years ago.

"He actually brought it to me, he wanted to join Cub Scouts," Carl Mueller said. "It's been really great for me, getting involved in it all, as well."

Peter Mueller was one of the scouts who got the honor of hoisting the American flag from half mast to full mast on Monday.

Carl Mueller said through the boy scouts, his son has taught him a few lessons about service.

"It's a great way to understand civic responsibility," Carl Mueller said. "We often take advantage of that, and take it for granted."