Vanessa Agee has been working for the town of Breckenridge for almost 10 years, and for all of that time she has wanted to start a Memorial Day Commemoration. On Monday, she and rest of the community will see the fruits of her labor, as the town holds its inaugural service.
Agee has family members on both her mother’s and father’s sides who went to war — and she has relatives who didn’t survive.
“It’s a rough thing when we send people into war and not everyone comes back,” she said.
Agee said the Memorial Day Commemoration tomorrow will give her and the rest of the community a chance to do something authentic and thoughtful during the holiday weekend.
During tomorrow’s commemorations, Summit County residents and visitors can take time to reflect, cry, laugh and thank the veterans who sacrificed their lives while serving in the armed forces. Services will take place at Valley Brook Cemetery in Breckenridge and at Dillon Cemetery.
Memorial Day Weekend is about more than barbecues and campouts, said Dillon’s ceremony organizer Matt Miano.
“Memorial day is a great way to kick off the summer, but there is a reason we have Memorial Day,” he said. “It’s a great way to think about those who have given their lives for what we get to enjoy.”
The commemoration at Dillon Cemetery will feature local speakers including state Rep. Millie Hamner, who represents Summit County in House District 61. Dillon Mayor Ron Holland and Elks Lodge exalted ruler Kevin Mastin will also speak at the event.
Miano said one of his favorite parts of the commemoration event is the open-mic portion.
“Last year a woman came up and told a heart-wrenching story about her husband who was lost in Vietnam,” he said.
Audience members typically share both tearjerkers and laughter at the commemoration.
“It is definitely neat to hear people talk about their loved ones,” he said.
The Dillon commemoration also will include the retiring of flags by the local Boy Scout Troop 188.
Both the Dillon and Breckenridge ceremonies will be held at historic cemeteries. Event organizers said they serve as ideal settings to honor veterans who have died while serving their country.
The Dillon Cemetery is perched on a hill with mountain views and is very serene, Miano said. It was established in 1885 and moved to its current location in 1962.
The Valley Brook Cemetery in Breckenridge stretches through a pine forest and contains more than 60 veterans’ graves.
“There is so much history at Valley Brook,” Agee said. “It is as if every single gravestone is telling a story.”
The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance will have an interpretive guide present to answer questions about the history of the cemetery after the commemoration.
The event at Valley Brook tomorrow will include a keynote speech from Col. Loren Johnson, the commander of the 140th Mission Support Group, Colorado Air National Guard, as well as an interdenominational service and a wreath laying.
Agee said she expects the event to be fairly solemn and very meaningful.
“I hope people in the community see we took a step to do something authentic and thoughtful and give people a chance to really think about what Memorial Day means.”