Veterans welcome to join Aspen’s July 4 parade |

Veterans welcome to join Aspen’s July 4 parade

Jeremy Heiman

Veterans of the U.S. military will again be walking in Aspen’s Fourth of July parade.

Organizers of the march are extending an invitation to all service veterans to march. Veterans’ participation in the parade is called “A Salute to Valley Veterans,” said Sally Glenn, who is helping to organize the event, but vets from anywhere also welcome to march, she said.

Glenn said this year will be the fourth year that a veterans group has marched in the annual procession. Glenn not a veteran herself, said she is “just somebody who wants to say `thanks.’ “

Morry Hollenbaugh, a World War II veteran who served in the First Marine Air Wing, started the veterans participation in the Independence Day parade four years ago.

“About four years ago, we came to realize that these guys (World War II vets) are dying at a rate of about 1,000 a day,” Hollenbaugh said.

Hollenbaugh recalled in his youth seeing Civil War veterans marching in parades, and how the sight stirred his emotions. He said he thought parade participation would be a way for World War II veterans to receive notice for their contributions before they, like the Civil War vets, are all gone.

The veterans’ parade participation has been well received. “One year, we got the only applause anybody got in the whole parade,” Hollenbaugh said.

Glenn said one of the banners carried by vets in past parades has a slogan taken from the Korean War Memorial: “Freedom is not free.” The phrase recognizes veterans for paying the price to keep the freedom enjoyed in the United States, she said.

Hugh Roberts, a veteran of the Vietnam War who served in the U.S. Air Force, 309th Fighter Squadron, agreed it’s important to remind people of that idea.

“I think the Vietnam vets were treated like shit when they came home,” Roberts said. “So this is a chance for them to get some recognition.” Roberts also helps to organize the parade group.

Roberts noted that this year is the 25th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, marking the end of the Vietnam conflict, and Glenn added that it’s also the 50th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

Any veteran who wants to march can call Roberts or Hollenbaugh in advance to have a placard made, showing the branch of service and the unit in which he or she served. But signs aren’t necessary. Any veteran, whether he or she served in wartime or peacetime, on American soil or overseas, is welcome. Glenn noted that one year, a woman walked in the parade to honor her deceased husband, a career military man.

“Vets can call ahead or just show up,” Glenn said. She said during past Fourth of July parades, vets have spontaneously joined the march from the parade audience.

Transportation will be provided for any veteran who is not able to walk the parade route. If a ride is needed, call ahead of time to arrange it.

Veterans are invited to wear their military uniforms, if they can get into them, Hollenbaugh said. Any uniform or military memorabilia are appropriate. But informal uniform items are acceptable, too.

“Hawaiian shirts are still my favorite,” says a parade invitation written by Roberts.

Participants in the veterans brigade are asked to meet along the Main Street parade route at 11:30 a.m. and look for a decorated Jeep and lots of flags.

For more information, or to sign up for a placard, call Hugh Roberts at 927-4194 or Morry Hollenbaugh at 923-4343.

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