But bad weather wasn’t going to stop the Gilpin Veteran’s Association from honoring all those who have gone before and all of those in battle now. They were remembering all veterans of all wars and no nasty wind was going to stop the ceremony. They simply moved inside of the Gilpin County Recreation Center where they could support each other and encourage those attending the event to join them.
Seven veterans were handed rifles. They were not in uniform, most of them were in jeans or overalls, all of them wearing their brand new Colorado VFW caps, all of them proud to be part of the ceremony.
Perry Pearch, former air force machinist from 1975-1976 was in the service just as the Vietnam War was ending and says veterans were not honored after the war. “This a beautiful good thing,” he said as he hefted the gun and listened to Leader Teo Dominguez give instructions.
Lewis Wagner was with the air force from 1961-1981, 20 years and nine days. He was a tech sergeant, a crew chief in Dnang. “When I came home they did everything except welcome us. I didn’t even want to wear my uniform. This ceremony is great. I enjoy being around the guys, the camaraderie of fellow vets.”
Teo, Commander of the Gilpin Foreign Legion said the weather wasn’t going to stop them, that they were going to go ahead with the traditional 21-gun salute.
But first he led the veterans and their friends and family in prayer.
“God of Hosts, we bow our heads in thankfulness for the victories Thou hast granted us, to us and to those peoples who have united with us to stamp out the evils of aggression, intolerance and greed.”
“We beseech Thee to bring the blessings of understanding to the families and friends, in this and other lands, of those who have given their lives that men may be free. Grant, O God, that those closest to the fallen may mingle the pain of their losses with the ennobling life of sacrifice for civilization, sacrifice for a better world for this and other generations yet unborn.”
“Grant us too, O God, the courage to so live with the family of nations around the world that end of strife will the beginning of enduring peace. Grant us patience in planning without fellow men a world in which nations may resolve their differences by peaceful means.”
“Grant us now thy continued blessing upon unity and strength, that makes victories possible in war, that we may win greater victories of peace.”
Teo then led the veterans in the 21-gun salute.
“Ready, Aim, Fire.”
“I’m Proud to Be an American” and then “Taps” was played as everyone in the room stood silently in respect for those who had died in service to their country.
Richard Smyder was in the Air Force for 23 years and he and his wife moved to Gilpin County 10 years ago. He received a letter from the VFW about four months ago and says he is happy he was invited to attend the service. “After 33 years of leaving the military, it is nice to be in a place where vets are recognized and honored. Yesterday, 400 students at the Gilpin School honored us and those cheerleaders all singing, God Bless the USA will stick with me.”
One of the veterans, Roy Blake is a fourth generation Black Hawk resident who retired from the Navy in 1980 and is now back in his hometown, living in the family house.
After the formal ceremony, the participants met at the Isle of Capris, where the casino provided the buffet lunch for all veterans.