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Veterans honored in Edwards

Steve LynnVail CO, Colorado

EDWARDS, COLORADO – Derek Dennison and his friend, John Shaw Vaughan, were in Cub Scouts together years before they died at age 23 while serving in the U.S. military. So Jean Dennison, Derek Dennison’s mother, enjoyed watching the Cub Scouts, who rang a bell after each Eagle County military serviceman’s name was read and also hoisted the American flag from half-staff. Locals remembered fallen Eagle County residents and living U.S. military servicemen and women Sunday at the Freedom Park Memorial, a collection of basalt obelisks inscribed with names of locals who died serving in the U.S. military and those who died working in emergency services in Eagle County. “It just warms my heart to know … that people are dedicated to the memory of our heros,” said Sarah Vaughan, John Shaw Vaughan’s mother. Fighting in World War I stopped on the 11th hour of Nov. 11, 1918, known as Armistice Day. In 1954, Congress passed legislation changing that name to Veterans Day to honor American veterans of all wars. Since World War I, known as “the war to end all wars,” war has continued, a point echoed in Vietnam War veteran Dan Smith’s speech to local residents on the cool, cloudy afternoon. “Anybody who has fought in one really wants it to be the last one,” Smith said about war. ‘A special day’John Gulick, a board member of the Freedom Park Memorial Committee, recalled his father’s service in the U.S. Coast Guard. John Gulick’s father, John Gulick Sr., “had quite a story to tell” after living through a torpedo strike and a Japanese kamikaze attack on two separate Coast Guard ships. John Gulick Sr. died in 1994 at 80. “Veteran’s Day was always a special day for my father when I was young,” Gulick said. Ernie Brown, of Edwards, was in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Bull off the coast of the Philippines from 1944-46.”All my friends say that was apropos – because I’m full of bull,” he said jokingly. Brown was surprised that more people did not show up in Freedom Park for Veterans Day, he said. “I think more people should be grateful,” said Brown, a Vail Valley resident since 1969. Veterans Day reminded some local residents of the horror of war. Ron Ward, a World War II veteran, and his brother, Dwight Ward, attended the ceremony together. Dwight Ward still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and many American veterans are homeless, Ron Ward said. “I think there should be a movement to try to get these (homeless veterans) taken care of,” Ron Ward said. Pat Hammon, a nurse in Vietnam, hoped that Veterans Day would remind people to seek other solutions to world conflicts besides war, she said. “This event hopefully will bring home to people the great losses of our wars,” said Hammon, chair of the Freedom Park Memorial Committee and an Eagle resident. The memorialThe names of people who died during service in the U.S. military and those of police, firefighters and an air-ambulance pilot who died in the line of duty are scrawled on two separate stones in the same memorial at Freedom Park. “I don’t think there’s any other place like it in America,” Gulick said. Included in those names are Derek Dennison and John Shaw Vaughan. Derek Dennison grew up in the valley and graduated from Battle Mountain High School in 2001. Dennison died in August 2005 in San Diego when he was serving in the U.S. Navy. “(Veterans) give us the lifestyle that we have,” said Dick Dennison, Derek Dennison’s father. John Vaughan was born at the Vail Valley Medical Center and graduated from Battle Mountain High School in 2001. He was killed in Mosul, Iraq, when a sniper shot him.The Freedom Park Memorial is a good place for John Shaw Vaughan to be remembered, Sarah Vaughan said. “It’s just a wonderful place to come and reflect,” she said. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.


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