“Thank God that such men lived”

veterans_memorialMemorial Day service led by VFW honored those who served

by Patty Unruh

A crowd of about 40 gathered at the Gilpin Community Center to remember our military veterans on May 30, Memorial Day. Along with thousands of others across the nation, Gilpinites met to commemorate the true meaning of the day.

The American flag and banners of Colorado, POW-MIA, the VFW, and various branches of the military whipped in the breeze while veterans mingled with family members, friends, county officials, and those who were simply grateful. Timberline Fire Protection District kindly provided a truck windbreak. Folks were proud to accept commemorative American flags handed out by members of the Mountain Rendezvous Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Promptly at 11 a.m., American Legion Commander Teo Dominguez took the microphone and looked around at the assembly.

“This is what we call Americans,” he declared. “Thank you all so much for coming today.”

Kathleen Schrader of the DAR opened with prayer, thanking the Lord for the inheritance of courage and valor on the part of the veterans. “Help us pass it on intact to future generations,” she prayed.

Members of all branches of the service were present. Dominguez, who had served in the Army from 1963-66, noted that a lot of them had been through several wars and called attention to the memorial that had been constructed outside of the Community Center. “This memorial honors those who didn’t come back,” he said.

A squad of seven veterans recited their military service and fired the salute. Perry Pearce served in the U.S. Air Force (1975-76). Former U.S. Marines included Paul Bennett (1956-59) and Joseph Duffy (1958-64). U.S. Navy veterans were Roy Blake (1991-2011) and Frank Kocsis (1965-71). Howard Roche (1961-63) and Jim Peltier (1968-69) served in the U.S. Army.

Following the playing of “Taps,” VFW member Doug Lupo gave a brief history of Memorial Day. The holiday was born out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. The 30th of May, 1868, was designated for the purpose of decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. With passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971, Memorial Day is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May. Lupo reminded the group that 620,000 men died fighting the Civil War, and 1.2 million American service men and women have died since.

Lupo encouraged everyone to be proud and thankful rather than sad. He quoted General George S. Patton, who is best known for his leadership of the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Patton said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”

The DAR’s Kay Lorenz then solemnly placed a wreath at the memorial in remembrance of VFW member Paul Frasier, who passed away last fall. Commander Dominguez asked that the assembly bow their heads in a moment of silence.

All were welcome to meet at the Century Casino for lunch following the ceremony.

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