By: Tom Florez, Department Commander, as published in the December 2015 Issue of the Internet Observer
To Our Legion Members and Family: For God and Country,
As your Department Commander I had the recent opportunity to visit the Colorado Veterans Monument during the 25th Anniversary Ceremony along with PNC Tom Bock, in down town Denver, near the State Capitol Building.
Tim Drago, Vietnam Veteran, started the group effort thirty two years ago with help from many other veterans including our Department Adjutant Pat Smith. Drago led all phases of development and the Colorado Veterans Monument was completed twenty five years ago.
Tim Drago was the primary speaker along with the Governor, legislative members and General Edwards. The majority contingent from the Colorado Army and Air National Guard supplied the audience to include a Color and Honor Guard and there were several dozen veterans present without designation of other service organizations and a few others, likely State Capitol and local area workers.
It was a beautiful day in our State Capitol, though a little cool as I moved from the shade and into the sunlight and to get closer so that I could hear a little better.
The Ceremony was wonderfully performed, with acknowledgment of those that had contributed to the monument. When the call was made for our WWII veterans to stand and be recognized, no one stood up. A second call asked if any WWII veterans were present, there was no answer, just silence!
A humbling experience! I thought of my father, Manuel, who served in 14th Army Air Corp in China, Burma & India (CBI Theatre) and of my mother Lucy, who passed away this last January. I remembered what my mom would tell me, “Time waits for no one.”
As I listened, the honor bell rang out for our five branches of the Military. I then repositioned myself to watch the Rifle Squad. A volley of three rang out! Then Taps! In most recent times, when I participated with the Posts in District 1, in Ordway Post 94, Rocky Ford Post 8 and Las Animas Post 6 honoring our departed veterans, of course you maintain composure, but, not this time, I quietly wept. Tom Bock wasn’t much better either.
As Tom Bock walked over to talk to General Edwards, I was approached by several people who thanked me for my service. Humbly I accepted their greeting and thanked them in return. Normally I am with people other than veterans who also thank me for my service, but this time I could see true sincerity in their eyes.
Twenty five years ago I served in the first Gulf War, at the peak of my physical and mental abilities. A few of my comrades from that time are gone or ill now. I asked myself, who will be at the Colorado Veterans Monument on Veterans Day twenty five years from now?
During this holiday season, I ask God’s Blessings for our Legion family. Please extend my compliments and thanks to your families for they are our true and loyal Legion supporters. Also remember those men and women on active duty and our ill and elderly veterans for they need our considerations.
Ask other veterans to join our organization, as they may well be the ones standing in memorial ceremony twenty five years from now.
Thanks to each of you for your service. Best of the Season in safety and happiness!