10th Mountain memorial sparks a new battle
While one Aspenite campaigns to get a missing name added to the 10th Mountain Division memorial at the base of Aspen Mountain, a city official has suggested moving the statue if the name isn’t added.
In 1997, a bronze statue honoring members of the 10th Mountain Division, who “came to Aspen in the early years… to assist greatly in making Aspen an internationally recognized ski resort,” was given to the city of Aspen by the late Bert Bidwell.
The statue, placed in the gondola plaza, was privately commissioned by Bidwell, who served in the division of specially trained skiing soldiers during World War II.
Unnamed on the statue’s plaque is Bil Dunaway, a 10th Mountain veteran who came to Aspen in 1956 and was the editor and publisher of The Aspen Times until 1994.
The Bidwell family attorney told Aspen City Council members that Bert Bidwell set a “cut-off date” of 1955 for honorees named on the plaque.
But local resident Carolyn Kane, who has been trying to add Dunaway’s name for years, isn’t buying that rationale for omitting it.
“Saying 1955 is the cut-off seems pretty contrived. If you read the plaque, there’s no date mentioned. I just feel that for the Bidwells to give a memorial as a gift, then try to control it is a huge travesty,” Kane said.
Kane, with her husband Bill, has “tried to be diplomatic” about correcting what she, at first, perceived to be an oversight. In 1999, an additional plaque with Dunaway’s name on it was added to the memorial. The addition was later chiseled off by an unidentified person.
Frustrated with both the Bidwell family and the removal of the Dunaway plaque, Kane has appealed her case to the city. She found at least a pair of receptive ears on the City Council.
“Bil served in the war with honor and distinction. My feeling is he needs to be recognized. It’s a matter of justice,” said Councilman Jim Markalunas, who still hopes an amicable solution can be worked out with the Bidwell family.
But Councilman Tony Hershey wants the city to discuss more decisive action. He has proposed either giving the statue away or moving it to a less prominent location.
“I think the cut-off was made specifically to exclude Bil because of politics in the late ’60s and ’70s. But politics aside, it’s just the right thing to do,” Hershey said.
Dunaway, himself, can’t get to worked up over the issue.
“I know I was in the 10th, I know what I did. [The plaque] doesn’t make any difference to me. I’m living in the present and for the future. I’m not living in the past,” he said.
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