I want to thank Dick Merritt, a retired U.S. Marine veteran, for his service not only to this country but also to the veterans of the Roaring Fork Valley. I read the article in The Aspen Times dated Dec. 21, and it was very touching ("Final recognition for dying military vets").
So often our veterans are forgotten, perhaps not for a lack of gratitude but because it's easier for non-service members to stay in the comfort of the unknown or because we live in a country that fosters a culture more focused on the voyeuristic findings of celebrity life than educating themselves on the political climates that can breed war and the character of the men and women who lay their lives on the line to protect our freedoms.
The article references recently deceased Aspenite Jim Hayes, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, as noting that he was never once thanked for his service. We can do better than this. What a wonderful thing you did, Mr. Merritt, for Hayes before he passed; you thanked him, and not a minute too soon.
I grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley and quite frequently heard of Merritt orchestrating or participating in veteran-type events; I hope to hear of more valley residents joining in with Merritt. War is an ugly and terrifying part of the fabric of our history and present circumstance; however, we have charged members of our society with this sacred and dangerous duty. The very least we can do is honor them more often, more meaningfully, more tangibly.
Thank you also to veterans Dan Glidden and Darryl Grob, who have joined Merritt in the duty to honor local veterans.