Take a moment to remember on Memorial Day | VailDaily.com

Take a moment to remember on Memorial Day

Quin McCarroll, a boyscout with Troop 222, places a flag on the grave of Veteran Harold "Gene" Townsend at the Eagle Cemetary on Thursday. Troop 222 honored all veterans resting in the Eagle cemetary with flags.
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

If You Go

What: Memorial Day ceremonies. The first is at the top of Tennessee Pass at the 10th Mountain Division Memorial. The second is at Freedom Park in Edwards.

When: 11 a.m. at Tennessee Pass. 3 p.m. at Freedom Park

Cost: Both are free and open to the public

Information: Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo., will speak at the 10th Mountain Division ceremony at Tennessee Pass. At Freedom Park Monday afternoon, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post is hosting its 12th annual Memorial Day ceremony. If the weather is bad, they’ll hold the ceremony in the WECMRD Fieldhouse.

At Tennessee Pass, attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs because of limited seating.

The Lake County High School Band will provide music and the Canyon City Junior ROTC Color Guard will post colors.

EAGLE COUNTY — Enjoy yourself Monday, laugh with friends and family, but also honor those who make that enjoyment possible.

“Take a little time on Memorial Day to honor all veterans of the armed forces who have served our country, and especially to those from Eagle County who paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom,” said Pete Thompson, commander of VFW Post 10721 in Minturn.

A ceremony honoring the storied 10th Mountain Division — our country’s first “winter soldiers” — is Monday morning at the 10th Mountain Division Memorial atop Tennessee Pass, between Minturn and Leadville. This afternoon, a ceremony honoring veterans and emergency responders is scheduled for Freedom Park in Edwards.

The Freedom Park ceremony will also include recognition of the fragment of limestone from the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, permanently installed at Memorial Park.

“It symbolizes, for all of us, our continuing need for protection of our freedom and democracy,” Thompson said.

Life’s lessons

Connor Jenkins was one of the dozens of local Boy Scouts who spent a rainy and blustery afternoon placing American flags on the graves of local military veterans. Many served in the two World Wars, several in Vietnam.

“It’s important to honor the troops who gave their lives, or part of their lives, for us and this country,” Jenkins said.

The Boy Scouts plant a flag by each veteran’s grave, step back, salute smartly and read the veteran’s name, rank and branch of service from the headstone, thank them for their service and wish them what all warriors want — peace.

It goes like this:

“Richard W. Hendrickson, Sergeant, U.S. Army. Thank you for your service. May you rest in peace.”

Or like this.

“Thomas Richards, Major, 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry. Thank you for your service and may you rest in peace.”

Lt. James Jackson was a Rough Rider in the Spanish American War. Frank Boston served in a World War I balloon company. They’re buried in Gypsum. A Civil War veteran is buried in Red Cliff.

Evenor Herrera is buried in Eagle. He’s an Eagle Valley High School graduate who joined the Marines not long after graduation. He was killed in Iraq.

Abhor war, but support your warriors.

10th Mountain Memorial

Just half a mile from Ski Cooper, surviving veterans and local Coloradans will gather to honor fallen comrades of WWII and current 10th Mountain Division and the 99th Battalion who lost their lives in combat.

The WWII “men of the mountain” did their advanced ski training in 1940s at Ski Cooper, when it was known as Cooper Hill.

It’s the 57th annual Memorial Day ceremony honoring the 10th Mountain Division of World War II, and all other veterans of America’s wars.

“We will gather at Tennessee Pass to especially remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service, those one thousand men who were killed in combat while serving in Italy with the 10th during World War II,” said Tommy Thompson, Tenth Mountain Division Foundation president.

Decades ago the 10th Mountain Division moved from Camp Hale to Fort Drum, New York, where it’s now the most deployed division in the Army.

“Since 9-11, the division headquarters has deployed 10 times, equaling almost 10 years over the past 15 years and over 40 brigade-size deployments have occurred,” said Retired Lieutenant General Lawson W. Magruder, past commander of the 10th Mountain Division.

The tale of the 10th

The 10th Mountain Division was created in Colorado during World War II and trained at Camp Hale between Minturn and Leadville.

It was the only unit in the history of the United States Army to be organized specifically for mountain and winter warfare.

The highly regarded division played a major role in battles that brought about the surrender of the German army in Italy in 1945.

After the war, many of the division’s veterans went on to create ski resorts across America, including Vail, Aspen, and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, Whiteface Mountain in New York State, Ski Santa Fe and Sandia Peak Ski areas in New Mexico, and numerous others.

Veterans of the 10th were instrumental in making skiing a major American winter sport.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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