Aspen salutes its soldiers |

Aspen salutes its soldiers

ASPEN – They came in all shapes and sizes. Some struggled more than others to speak at the podium. But their message was the same – to remember those who gave the “ultimate sacrifice” for the United States.

On a picture-perfect Memorial Day tempered by solace and reverence, an apparent record crowd paid homage to America’s fallen soldiers.

“Freedom is certainly something that has to be earned, and we think of all those who have given their lives,” said Kurt Bresnitz, who grew up Jewish in 1930s Austria, and lost all of his relatives at the time to the concentration camps.

“I’m standing here in their memory,” Bresnitz said.

While the 92-year-old Bresnitz fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, there was also Casey Owens, 28, a former Marine and double amputee, who visited the podium, unaided, to remember his fallen comrades. Owens lost both of his legs during his second tour of duty in Baghdad, in 2004, when his Humvee ran over an anti-tank mine.

Veterans weren’t the only ones who reflected on the casualties of war. Family members and friends, young and old, shared stories about servicemen and -women who died in the line of duty, or after they had hung up their uniforms.

“Remember all of these people in your special prayers,” said veteran Fred Crowley, who read the roll call of Aspen men killed in combat – one from World War I, three from World War II, one from the Korean War and two from Vietnam.

The Memorial Day observance was held at the Veterans Memorial next to the Pitkin County Courthouse. In what has become a tradition, veterans Dick Merritt and Dan Glidden led the Pledge of Allegiance and Word of Welcome, respectively, while Richard Sundeen performed “Trumpet Interlude” and “Taps,” and Jeannie Walla sang “America the Beautiful.”

Pastor Dan Bosko offered a benediction, praying for hope, while Tom Buesch, brother of the late Vietnam veteran Rick Buesch, recited the 1919 World War I poem “In Flanders Field,” which reads, in part:

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

After the poem was read, Merritt remarked: “It’s still with us today.”

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