Aspen salutes its veterans
November 12, 2009
ASPEN – Last week’s massacre in Fort Hood, Texas, provided a somber backdrop for Wednesday’s Veterans Day observance in Aspen.
Still, veterans managed to muster humor with old stories on a crisp, clear morning of reverence, highlighted by U.S. Rep. John Salazar’s tribute to his late father, who served in World War II.
“I want to commend each and every one of you and your families for the sacrifices you have made, and because of these sacrifices, I can say we live in the greatest country on the face of this earth,” said Salazar, himself a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Scores of veterans, locals and visitors attended the ceremony, which included a benediction by pastor Tom Thierfelder, the singing of “God Bless America” by Jeannie Walla, “Trumpet Interlude” and “Taps” performances by Richard Sundeen, and the presentation and retirement of colors by the Roaring Fork Valley Veterans Honor Guard.
Local Dan Glidden, a Vietnam veteran who led the service, summoned veterans from as far back as World War II, and most recently as the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Dozens filed up to the front, and were given a warm reception by the crowd.
It was the 90th anniversary of Veterans Day, which was originally called Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1919. In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming it Veterans Day.
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Salazar recalled the days in which his father, then in his 80s, fell ill with Alzheimer’s disease, yet still had the presence of mind to ask that he be laid to rest in his military uniform. The congressman reflected that as he ushered his 86-year-old father to a gurney on the day he died, the older Salazar told his son, “I love you.” His final word, Salazar, remembered, was “uniform.”
“Although he had forgotten everything … he had not forgotten his family. He never forgot now much he loved his country,” Salazar said.
Salazar called his father the “greatest hero I have ever known.”
“He never asked anything of his country,” he said.
The act of selflessness, in fact, emerged as a theme at the observance, where not only veterans, but family members as well voiced their appreciation for America’s servicemen and women.
“Today is a day to hug a veteran,” Glidden said.