Aspen honors veterans
November 12, 2011
ASPEN – At 11:11 a.m. on 11/11/11, a cannon blast marked the moment. It was especially poignant for those gathered at the Roaring Fork Veterans Memorial in Aspen.
“There is a saying, that a person is not dead until he is forgotten. I would say, a veteran is not dead until he or she is forgotten,” said Dan Glidden, in opening Friday’s local Veterans Day observance. “I can only say this: You are not forgotten.”
The hour-plus ceremony continued with remarks by Father John Hilton of St. Mary Catholic Church, including a prayer: “Heavenly Father … our hope is that you will watch over this great nation, America.”
Also speaking to the assembled crowd of veterans and citizens was Lt. Col. Dick Merritt, an active member of the local veterans’ community and organizer of the annual celebration; Merritt also helped organize a Veterans Day event at Aspen High School later in the day.
Professor Tom Buesch offered a reading from the works of author Karl Marlantes, including “Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War” and his latest book, “What It Is Like to Go to War.” Jeannie Walla sang a moving version of “God Bless America,” while Richard Sundeen played “Taps” to close the ceremony.
The event also included a roll call of Aspen men killed in service, which total seven; recognition of Aspen sixth-grader Grace Ferguson, who wrote a story for The Aspen Times about the importance of honoring veterans; the introduction of a new hospice program for local veterans; a few words from organizers of the Roaring Fork Veterans History Project; and impromptu speeches by those in the audience.
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In the end, though, the underlying theme of the Veterans Day event in Aspen was one of thanks: “There are lots of events in this community, but for me, this is the most important, the most meaningful,” said Michael Owsley, a Pitkin County commissioner and regular attendee at events for local veterans. “It’s just a very important event for me and for the community to show that we are so grateful to the veterans for their sacrifice and service. Thank you.”