Hundreds in Aspen honor veterans |

Hundreds in Aspen honor veterans

Wyatt Haupt Jr.
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Presentation of Colors is done by Mark Hamby (left) and Bob Perigo of the Roaring Fork Valley Veterans Honor Guard at Memorial Day observance in Aspen.

ASPEN ” As the clock approached noon Monday the cloudy and threatening skies above the Roaring Fork Valley Veterans Memorial in Aspen seemed to brighten.

A few moments later, the American flag was raised from its position at half-staff in front of the memorial, and an order for the presentation of colors was given to veterans Bob Perigo and Mark Hamby.

With that, the Roaring Fork Valley Veterans Honor Guard members marched toward the memorial site as more than 250 people stood and watched in silence as the men finished their walk.

Shortly thereafter local Cub Scouts placed a wreath at the base of the memorial.

“It’s about remembering the men on my team that I lost,” said Perigo, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1965-67, a majority of that time spent on a patrol boat in Vietnam.

Perigo, a valley resident and former gunnery mate, said 28 members of his team died in the period.

Hamby, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1976-82, added that Memorial Day is about honoring the people who gave their lives.

“Remembrance,” said Hamby, 51, of Basalt. “Service of the country and the sacrifice.”

The observance also featured a traditional reading of the poem “In Flanders Field.” The poem, authored by John McCrae, was written May 3, 1915 at Ypres, Belgium, during World War I.

McCrae was a surgeon during the battle of Ypres, and a member of the Canadian Army. Groups, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, take donations in the time leading up to Memorial Day for poppies.

The poppies have long been synonymous with Memorial Day. The poppies’ meaning to the holiday stems from the poem.

The ceremony, which lasted about 35 minutes, was brought to a close with a simple two-word command from retired Marine Lt. Col. Dick Merritt.

“Retire colors,” he said. “Let there be peace.”

About one million men and women have died in wartime periods, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. About 655,000 of those have been battle deaths.