Calls for action highlight Memorial Day service
As veterans and their relatives spoke to the throngs of Memorial Day observers Monday in Aspen, the underlying message became clear: Remember not only the fallen soldiers but the living ones, too.
Under sunny skies, hundreds of people attended the Memorial Day service at the Roaring Fork Veterans Memorial Site next to the Pitkin County Courthouse. It was a record attendance, according to retired Col. Dick Merritt.
But that wasn’t the statistic speakers emphasized at the ceremony. Instead, it was the disturbing fact that an average of 22 veterans commit suicide on a daily basis. The fact was punctuated by the 22 silhouettes placed at the memorial site.
“Not enough is being done, and not enough is going to be done until we stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough,’” said Adam McCabe, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. McCabe, of Carbondale, is the co-founder of Purple Star Veterans and Families, which focuses on helping those veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and other symptoms of war. Part of the group’s goal is to call on Washington to implement policy change from which veterans can benefit.
“The sacrifices made in combat didn’t stop in combat. They stay in their hearts; they stay in their heads,” McCabe said.
Tom Buesch, brother of Vietnam veteran Rick Buesch, a longtime Aspen resident who took his life in 2001, noted that locally, there are deep ties to the casualties of war.
“Remember on this day that while people are skiing on the mountain, 992 men of the 10th Mountain Division died to protect our freedoms during World War II,” he said.
Aspen’s connection to past conflicts goes beyond World War II, said Darryl Grob, who took a roll call of Aspen men killed in action. One person died in World War I, three in the second World War, one in the Korean War and two in Vietnam.
“It is because of them that we stand today in freedom and enjoy what we enjoy,” said the Rev. Don Bosko, of Crossroads Church.
Aspen resident and Holocaust survivor Kurt Bresnitz, 95, made a call for peace.
“I have a vision and hope that we turn down our guns, forbid the killing of our youngest people,” said Bresnitz, who enlisted in the U.S. Army after fleeing his hometown of Vienna, Austria, in 1938. He moved to Aspen in 1950. “I wish that we could find a way to ease our difference with other states. … I hope that blood is not going to be wasted and we concentrate on what we can do for others and be a symbol of peace and understanding.”
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