CommunityHistoryNews

Veteran’s Day celebrated

At the Gilpin Community Center

By Jaclyn Schrock

Veteran’s Day, Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Gilpin County Community Center bearing up to cold stiff breezes about 25 people appreciating what United States service men and women have endured to continue keeping our community thriving with-in the security of freedom in our United States of America.

Near the parking area is a courtyard memorial in front of the Gilpin County Recreation Center. Eight local Veteran’s participated in the display of honor for all personal who have served in all branches of the United States military. American Legions Commander Teodoro Dominguez SP/4 US Army hosted the event. The artillery squad included:

–Lewis Wagner TSGT USAF (Vet Nam 64-68, 73-74),

–Perry K Pearce Airman USAF (75-76),

–Leon Pohz E5 US Army (60-66),

–Jesse Peterson E1 USMC (68-70),

–James Voohies E6 US Navy,

–Howard, Roche E3 US Army,

–Doug Lopo E4 US Army.

There were two cub scouts in uniform who manned positions for the ceremony holding the US flag and the POW/ MIA flags. Also participating was Jimmy Stewart who played Taps on his accordion.

The celebration of our Veterans was specially arranged with red, white and blue flowers at the memorial sight. The flags for each branch of service were posted for the event behind the wall enclosing the name bricks. From left to right were the flags for the US Army, Marines, Coast Guard, VFW Post 166, Air Force and Navy. A US Flag always is in place stands taller behind these temporary poles. A US flag and the black POW/ MIA flag were held in place near the entry steps for sitting to honor memorials by the brick area with names and service information of local Veterans. Chairs were set up for guests.

At 11:00 am the event began with a prayer, a few comments on the history of Veteran’s Day and how many Americans are still available from combat and other duties in the service now living among us as civilians. Much remembering occurred to honor their fallen comrades. There was a moment of silence to remember the recently passed Roy Blake, who had been a vital healthy part of Post 166 in Central City. There was the 3 rounds fired safely in remembrance of all veterans. Taps was played to honor those who gave their life in service of our country. There were more details spoken to appreciate the freedoms we now have at the cost of many who have and also who currently serve our country. The event closed with a prayer to be thankful for all we have and to honor those who paid dearly to preserve our nation.

The purpose of the Veteran’s Day event was fulfilled to remember the lost servicemen and to honor our surviving veterans who served, bonded together as a unit to protect and uphold the duties requested of them for the United States of America. The pride and faithful sacrifices of these who serve touch our hearts with gratitude. The flags flying of each branch of service, the POW/ MIA flag and our American flag were easily seen, blowing with the breezes of the lost servicemen’s last breath, one had been remembered to have said.

Having conversation with some who participated in the event brought great respect for those who served. Jimmy Stewart has not served with the military. However, he has spent many years supporting the veterans who are able to travel to Colorado for the Winter Sports Clinic. He helps at the airport mostly the weekend before and the weekend after to facilitate logistics for Vets who come from all over the country to enjoy the amazing winter wonderland in our mountain resort communities.

Jesse Peterson of the Marine Corps 68-70 told about reactions of friends when he enlisted. He was in Milwaukee, and most his friends where he lived on the college campus were against the war. Jesse was only 17, but was one of the first to get 100% on the entrance exam. Even though he had not finished high school, he said it was needed to do his duty well. Many expected him to be well-equipped for his new enlistment because of his score, but he felt he could have come in better equipped for the job if he had finished school. He said then, boot camp was 18 weeks long. He was ecstatic to have completed his boot camp and return home proud of his accomplishments to begin his service. His friends were not so impressed, and ridiculed him for participating in the service. He went back for his other training and served with many others. When he got out, he was fortunate to get a good job that grew into the building of his career which brought him to Colorado where he has lived for over 30 years.

Jim Voorhies started in the Marines 77-81. He reenlisted with the Navy 81-87 where he served as a Reactor Controller Engineer, being an electrical technician. When asked to compare how he felt as he returned home from training, he basically said he was excited and nervous. He was excited to return home, yet nervous to find out all that he had missed while away. He told of coming home to find the many changes his two daughters had grown through while he was deployed. When he came home the last time, he didn’t know if he would return or not. He had made the choice to continue his military career before, and leave his family. It was a hard life to split career time from his family. He finally decided to stay with his family and did not continue his military career.

Lewis Wagner USAF served six months at a time in South East Asia, with six months state-side. He has patches for his Viet Nam service from 64-68 and 73-74. He served as an aircraft mechanic with KC135, the tanker unit that refuels other bomber and fighter planes while both are flying. He said when he returned from basic training to Amarillo in 1964 everyone was happy, friendly, respectful and supportive. He couldn’t wait to get into civilian clothes. When he spoke of other times he returned home, he seemed to carry the weights of disappointment. He wanted to do things as the military instructed him to, but, often, on the battle lines, you couldn’t do things by the book. You had to just do what ever it took to make things work, a team of guys with their own specialties, willing and able to help each other get the job done. He is not a fuel handler, but he was able to do his part to keep the planes moving. He told of a time his refueling tanker ran out of fuel because they unloaded too much fuel to other service planes, and had to land in a dangerous area to find enough fuel and get out. He told of another plane that was hit in the wing while refueling so the fuel kept leaking out. They stayed connected with his engines running, but didn’t pump, just let gravity keep the fuel flowing. They towed him back to an air strip, let him loose a mile from the strip, and when he landed safely, he ran out of fuel before he could turn off the engines. They all celebrated together, safe!

As many have stated during these events Veteran’s Day is our opportunity to show our appreciation to those who have served in the military. Veteran’s Day is to honor all who served. We honor American men and women, along with the families who care for them in current service, those who sacrificed their life in the line of duty as well as those who carry the burden of the experience and loss of fallen comrades to still contribute to our communities.

Veteran’s Day, called such in 1954, was declared to honor Veterans from every war in which the United States has been engaged. Since 1919 November 11 had been a day to honor only those who served in the Great War, when President Wilson proclaimed it as Armistice Day. After years of war, loss, and sacrifice by so many nations in our world an armistice came in 1918, November 11, at the 11th hour. As Valerie Strauss explained in the Washington Post, May 29, 2016 while distinguishing the differences between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Armistice Day was to celebrate when “an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect” to end the Great War hoped to end all wars.

However, by October 8, 1954 President Dwight D, Eisenhower issued the Veteran’s Day proclamation to be observed for the purpose of recognizing Veterans of all wars, not just World War I. By this time the US had participated in WWII, and the Korean conflict. This proclamation included the designation of four federal holidays celebrated on Monday as 3-day weekends: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day.

Veteran’s Day recognizes all who have served in all five branches of the military in all time. So, even though it may seem to be most appropriate to honor those who can still tell us of their experiences while serving our county, it is not to forget those who gave their all in service and passed later, as well as those who never were able to return home from their duties. Many Veterans’ choose to honor their fallen comrades on this day, thankful for what they did together for the United States, so some could come home, while others could not.

Memorial Day gradually became the given name after WWII, which originated as Decoration Day to honor with decorations the graves of soldiers both for the north and the south serving the United States of America. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic on May 5, 1868, in his General Order No. 11, designated the 30th of May, 1868 to be Decoration Day. The day is not an anniversary of any battle, but designated for the purpose of “strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” Memorial Day was officially called such and perpetually celebrated on the last Monday in May since 1968, federally taking effect in 1971. Memorial Day recognizes those who gave their all for America. Many states in the South have their own special day to recognize those lost in Civil War battles. Memorial Day is a federal day to also recognize those who sacrificed all. We have so many who have died in service for our country, and many who have returned, carrying the burden of those lost.

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