Veterans urged to join Aspen parade
June 29, 2012
ASPEN – Military veterans have been marching in Aspen’s Fourth of July parade for 17 years, but for some veterans, it’s tough to overcome emotions and get involved.
Hugh Roberts, an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War and an organizer of the march, said participation has grown over the years and hit a steady rate of about 75 participants. However, the pain and other emotions are still too raw for some veterans to get involved.
Roberts said he didn’t learn until last year that a local resident he had known for 20-some years was a veteran.
“He never told anybody he was a vet,” Roberts said. “He walked with us last year for the first time.”
The man had some bad experiences when he returned from the Vietnam War, and he never wanted to risk being treated that way again. The wounds finally healed, and he walked in Aspen’s parade. He was overjoyed to be greeted with only cheers, Roberts said.
Roberts can relate.
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“When I came back, I was treated like a nut or something,” he said.
He returned from duty to Nebraska farm country and confided to a close female friend that he felt bad about some of the things that occurred in the war. Her cool response was that he should feel bad.
The attitude toward veterans has changed in a generation. It took awhile after Roberts moved to Aspen, but he started getting involved in more veterans’ events, particularly the parade. These days, more veterans in general are willing to participate in events like the parade.
“They like getting appreciated,” Roberts said.
And there’s a strong sense of camaraderie.
“You get to hang out with the guys,” he said.
He wants veterans of all wars and conflicts to show up at Paepcke Park at 11 a.m. Wednesday – an hour before the start of the parade. Rides will be provided for those who need them. That could be vital if the weather remains so hot and dry.
“They’re all welcome. They should come and walk with us,” Roberts said.
Roberts can be reached at 970-927-4194 for more information.