Aspen honors veterans at new memorial park
Hundreds of folks braved Sunday’s crisp, cold air to salute not only the veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces, but also to acknowledge those who helped remodel Veterans Memorial Park in Aspen.
“Thirty-one years ago we had the initial inauguration of this memorial,” Dan Glidden, a Navy veteran and volunteer for local veterans’ affairs, told the crowd. “Today, 31 years later, we are rededicating it.”
Glidden and local resident Nancy Bosshard, an Air Force pilot in Vietnam who played an instrumental role in the creation of the original park, lit a candle to rededicate the new Veterans Memorial Park, located between the historic Pitkin County Courthouse and the county’s newly remodeled and expanded administrative office building. The park, the host site for past Memorial and Veterans Day observances, had been dormant 18 months during construction.
But the Veterans Day ceremony, which also came on the same day as the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, made it worth the wait.
Attending the service were Cub Scouts, members of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, and vets from military combat as far back as World War II and most recently as Iraq, as well public officials, locals paying their respects and relatives of service men and women, among others.
“We rejoice in the opportunity to be rededicating this memorial,” said Aspen Fire Department Chaplain Roy Holloway. “We ask your blessing down on all who participate. We ask your blessings on all of the troops wherever they are — those who have gone before us, and our present ones, just bless them and watch over their families.”
The designer of the new memorial, Wayne Stryker, also was on hand. While not a veteran himself, Stryker, speaking to the younger set on the crowd, said they might lack the appreciation for what Vietnam veterans were forced to endure when they returned to the States.
He also noted that aspect was considered when designing the new memorial.
“It was not uncommon in those days for Vietnam veterans to not even be aware that their friends were also Vietnam veterans,” he said. “That was the atmosphere.
“So there’s different ways to design a memorial, and memorials are really a product of their time. … For the Vietnam War, it was important to just be an abstract symbol unlike the Civil War memorial at the courthouse (next door), which is a symbol. It was necessary to create a design that would many different points of view could find a common expression.”
Retired Col. Dick Merritt would later say, “We Vietnam veterans do feel welcome home. Thank you,”
Stryker was among those who received honorary veterans certificates for their work on the memorial park, as well as sculptor Greg Tonozzi, Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock, landscape architect Nick Soho and Pitkin County Chief Financial Officer Rich Englehart.
Prior to the ceremony, veterans marched from Paepcke Park down Main Street to the Veterans Memorial Park under the escort of Aspen police and fire personnel.
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Hanging Lake will once again be taking visitors starting May 1.