A reverent ceremony for our military

Armed Forces Day celebrated at Gilpin Community Center

By David Josselyn

  The VFW Stanley-Nelson Post 7563 of Central City, together with the American Legion Cody-Thomas Post 166 of Central City recognized Armed Forces Day outside the Gilpin Community Center on Saturday, May 18th.  The ceremony took place in front of the Gilpin County Veterans Memorial which was adorned with beautiful flower arrangements and flags. Teodoro Dominguez, retired U.S. Army, wanted to thank the anonymous donor of the flowers on behalf of the VFW and American Legion of Central City saying they are “greatly appreciated.” Veterans of the four main branches; Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, were in attendance and participating. The outdoor event was emceed by Thomas Lopez, veteran of the U.S. Army Airborne.

A Brief History

  Armed Forces Day was created in 1949 to unify and combine the Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The Marine Corps opted to honor both their own Marine Corps Day and also Armed Forces Day. Announcing the formation of Armed Forces Day, President Truman “praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas.” The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated with parades, open houses, receptions, and air shows. In Washington D.C., ten thousand troops from every branch of the military gathered to march by the nation’s capital.

Honoring those who serve

  The morning began with the color guard presenting the colors of The United States of America, the great state of Colorado, and the Prisoners Of War/ Missing In Action (POW/MIA), immediately followed the Pledge of Allegiance. Thomas Lopez then led the assembly in prayer. A brief history of Armed Forces Day was given followed by a moment of silence accompanied by taps professionally played by bugler Emma Berg on trumpet. The silence was broken by the loud retort of a twenty-one gun salute. The veterans in attendance were introduced and then the whole assembly invited to Roy’s Last Shot for lunch before disbanding.

Our Local Veterans

  It was quite an honor to be among the veterans that day. These men and women have done things that this reporter never has and I wonder if I would ever have the intestinal fortitude, the strength, or the endurance to go through what they have. Among the attendees that day was Anthony (Tony) Lopez, a World War II veteran who served in the 82nd U.S. Army Airborne, 503RPCT from 1943 to 1951 in the South Pacific. Other participants include Mike Kervitsky from the Sons of The American Legion whose father also served in World War II; Roy D. Blake, retired U.S. Navy who served as a hull technician from 1991 to 2011; Teodoro Dominguez, veteran of the U.S. Army who served with the 249 Engineers in France and Germany from 1963 to 1966; Sandy Hoffman, retired PFC U.S. Army who served from 1966 to 1968; Perry Pearce, retired Air Force who served in the 1970’s; Bob Masslich, who served in Germany as a radar operator from 1953 to 1955 for the U.S. Army; Jim Davis, retired U.S. Navy who served aboard the U.S.S. Ranger from 1966 to 1970, which included three tours to Vietnam; Howard Roche, retired U.S. Army who served from 1961-1963 in Korea; and Mary Felix who served in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1973.

A little perspective

  During the ceremony, an uncooperative breeze blew over the American Flag to which Thomas Lopez said, “Sometimes mother nature lets us know we are subservient to the Creator.” This followed on the heels of his prayer which is reprinted here in its entirety: “Almighty God, Giver of all victories, we thank Thee for the opportunities which abide in our land, for Thy guidance in the hour of peril and Thy tender love in times of need. Help us to remember with reverence the valor and devotion of our departed comrades; not only those whose bodies consecrate our Country’s soil, but also those who sleep beyond the seas, and those others whose resting places will not be known until that last day when the deep will have given up its dead. O God, teach us to honor them by ever cherishing the ideals for which they fought. Keep us steadfast in the cause of human rights and liberties, of law and order, and true Americanism. Give us the power to see, and the will to do the right. Grant that The American Legion may preserve the high ideal for which our comrades die. May Thy merciful blessing rest upon those they left behind. Keep us forever firm in righteousness, humble of heart, and unselfish in purpose. Amen.”

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