Veterans to rededicate memorial
ASPEN Twenty years ago, 75 Vietnam War veterans marched along Main Street to dedicate a memorial near the Pitkin County Courthouse. On Saturday, area veterans will rededicate the monument the Roaring Fork Valley Veterans Memorial.In the wake of a less-than-friendly return after the Vietnam War, veterans Dan Glidden and Chuck Cole decided to draw attention to the issue. After years wrangling with local government, the two able to secure a site next to the courthouse for a memorial, Glidden said. And – with the help of fellow veterans Rick Buesch, Dick Merritt, Fred Crowley and many others – the men held bakes sales, raffles and an auction to raise money for the marble marker where veterans gather on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.In the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the memorial’s original dedication, veterans commissioned Greg Tonozzi, who sculpted the monument, to clean the marble.While that first dedication ceremony in 1987 was a chance for everyone who’d stayed quiet about their service in Vietnam to talk about their experiences, Saturday’s ceremony will rededicate the marker in honor of all who served, said Merritt, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam who is active with veterans issues.”The memorial lets people express themselves,” Merritt said. “We’re all still here, and we wanted to put this on for the public.””We do not any other veterans to be treated like we were,” Glidden said. “We need to give veterans respect. We need to honor them. That’s the whole idea.”Veterans and civilians alike are invited to take part in Saturday’s events, beginning at 6 p.m. with a march along Main Street from the Hickory House restaurant to the monument just east of the courthouse.The march will be followed by a candlelight ceremony at 6:30 p.m. – a chance for veterans and friends to speak at an open mic, and a service held in honor of Howie Berg, a Marine veteran of Vietnam currently on life support, Merritt said.There will also be live music and family and friends are invited.”It’s been totally rebuffed and polished and all the nicks taken out,” Merritt said of the monument. “It’ll be good for another 20 years at least.”Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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