`They … made the ultimate sacrifice’ | PostIndependent.com

`They … made the ultimate sacrifice’

by Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – It’s not often that there’s much traffic in Rosebud Cemetery. But on Memorial Day Monday, dozens of vehicles parked alongside the one-lane dirt paths, clearly illustrating that families and friends still remember the soldiers laid to rest in the south Glenwood Springs cemetery.

The Boy Scouts from Troop 225 lowered the American and Colorado flags, then raised them to half-mast at Rosebud Cemetery to signify the start of the American Legion Post 83’s memorial service on Monday morning.

Major Brian Delaplane, a Glenwood High School alum now stationed at Fort Carson, addressed about 100 people gathered on Monday morning to honor the men and women who’ve died serving the United States. He spoke of his grandfather, who fought in World War I, and whose body is laid to rest at Rosebud. And he spoke of retiring from the service, earning his M.B.A. and taking a job with Merrill Lynch, only to return to active duty on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It never occurred to me not to go back,” he said quietly.

Those attending wore red, white and blue – and sometimes black – and listened as Glenwood High School students Tyro Markle and Liz Henne read to the audience. Markle read his poem, “Ode to American Vets,” and Henne read her essay from history class, “Why I’m Grateful for Vets.” Accompanied by a boombox, Chris Toler followed up with his rendition of “God Bless the U.S.A.”

Following a benediction by Victor Kimminau, three shots rang out in “A Salute to the Dead,” and Emily Cochran, also from Glenwood Springs High School, played “Taps” on her trumpet.

The ceremony ended with “The Lord’s Prayer,” and groups wandered off, some to visit graves of departed family members, sometimes kneeling in the green grass, placing small American flags and flowers around tombstones.

Later that day, many faces from the Rosebud service could be seen at a “Support our Troops” rally in Sayre Park, where about 50 people gathered to pay respects and to remember those who have served their country.

Delaplane attended this Memorial Day event as well, and this time spoke about the “magnificent right we have in this country to speak out in protest,” and the importance of remembering that soldiers have died in order for Americans to have that right.

Two National Guard helicopters performed a fly-by over the park. It looked like the choppers were barely clearing the park’s trees, and the crowd erupted in applause and waved enthusiastically to the pilots.

Cecelia Woods of Carbondale and her sister Johanna Terry of Glenwood Springs came to the ceremony together. Woods said their father was stationed in France during World War I. She said he was an engineer on a troop train. Woods’ husband served in Korea and was injured in the war. He died in 1989.

“Memorial Day is always a special day for us,” Terry said quietly.

Barbara Haycock of Glenwood Springs wanted to come to the rally in honor of her nephew, Cody Mortensen, who joined the Marines a little less than a year ago. He’s stationed in Japan.

Haycock also came to the rally in honor of her brother-in-law, Jack Fischer. She said Fischer was a helicopter pilot during Vietnam and now lives in Carbondale.

Glenwood Springs Mayor Don Vanderhoof thanked the crowd for attending the rally and thanked Garfield County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf “and her helpers” for putting the rally together.

“Memorial Day is a day for families to honor and remember the departed,” Vanderhoof said. “It’s a time for us to give thanks to those who have protected us and our liberties. For the most part, they were just kids who made the ultimate sacrifice. They weren’t able to fall in love and have children and grandchildren. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts, and we will never forget them.”

Four students from Glenwood Springs High School – recently graduated seniors Brian Fox, Brock Milhorn and Paul Dykema, and junior Daniel Bailey – sang a few patriotic songs a cappella, and Karen White played her piccolo.

Nearing the end of service, Laura Sakorski-Burton of Glenwood Springs, who had arrived at the rally in a motorized wheelchair, turned her chair from the gathering and went to the outskirts of the park.

“I am so sad,” she said. “Children are ready to give their lives, and there are hardly any people here at this rally. There should be more people here. I know it’s hot, and it’s a sacrifice, but I’m sacrificing my … comfort to support our troops and our flag.”

Sakorski-Burton said her 7-year-old son, Kristian Burton, told her he wants to join the service like his uncle, who’s 18 and is in the National Guard in Michigan. Later, Kristian took the stage and told the crowd his uncle is “the greatest in the world.”

Jeannine Ford-Artaz of Glenwood Springs climbed the gazebo steps and told the crowd that she’s never been more proud to be an American. She said her father died fighting in Korea, and her late husband was Polish but became an American citizen in order to fight for the United States. She said her grandchildren and even great-grandchildren have served as well.

“I love you all for being here today,” she told the crowd. “Your being here today is so very important.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518


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