Approximately 600 people attended the Memorial Day Service at the Veteran's Memorial Cemetery, Monday morning in Grand Junction. The Director of the Veteran's Cemetery, Richard Gigliotti, presided over the somber and emotional service, which paid tribute to America's fallen soldiers, sailors, and airmen from all wars.
The crowd was a mix of men, women, and children of all ages, and numerous veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the recent conflicts in the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan were present.
United States Congressman from Colorado's Distric 3, Scott Tipton, spoke briefly to the crowd, reminding Americans that each of us owes a debt of gratitude to those who have served and died to keep us free. He quoted Ronald Reagan saying, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children through the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed-on to them to do the same.”
Congressman Tipton closed by saying that, from Valley Forge to Afghanistan, the United States Armed Forces have never been a conquering army, but have always fought for the cause of liberty.
State Senator Steve King of Colorado's House District 7, opened his remarks with a tribute to the families of those who are away and currently on active duty. He said of those families, that their sacrifice is also critical to the cause of liberty. Sentor King spoke of the fallen heroes whose graves we anually maintain and mark with beautiful flowers. He said that they will be remembered forever for their love of country.
The Commisioner from Mesa County District 1, Craig Meis, also offered a short tribute to those who died in service to our country. Of veterans he said, “We each need to reach out to our living heroes and offer them our thanks and support.”
Jim Doody, former Mayor of Grand Junction and a current City Council member, offered a special tribute to veterans of the Vietnam War. He gave a personal account of how the loss of his brother in Laos was the impetus for his effort to build the Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial. An actual Huey helicopter, similar to the one piloted by Doody's brother, sits atop the impressive memorial located in Fruita, Colorado.
The Veteran's Cemetary Service was graced with music from the Thunder Moutain Pipe Band, as well as reverent flag ceremonies conducted by the Western Slope Combined Honor Guard.
After a weekend of windy and unpleasantly cool weather, the sun came out and a gentle breeze kept the flags at the ceremony aloft. This realtively new tradition held at the Veteran's Memorial Cemetery each Memorial Day, has steadily grown in attendance as American hearts turn back to the patriotic roots of the nation, and to recollections of the uncounted lives that been given to keep the flame of liberty bright.