Dillon Cemetery ceremony honors memories of soldiers | SummitDaily.com

Dillon Cemetery ceremony honors memories of soldiers

DILLON – Roughly 200 people visited Dillon Cemetery on Monday for a ceremony honoring heroes of the United States military.

Under blue skies and a cool breeze, many military veterans and relatives shared stories of the departed.

State Sen. Dan Gibbs spoke of the joint resolution passed in May to name Highway 91 from Copper to Leadville “Fallen Heroes Highway.”

The resolution honors Nicklas Palmer of Leadville, who was killed by a sniper bullet in Iraq in 2006. He was 19 years old.

Numerous people stood through the ceremony, for all seats were taken. The Summit Concert Band played moving, patriotic music between speeches and local Boy Scouts of America presented a flag ceremony.

World War II veteran fighter pilot Stuart “Boot” Gordon took the stage, telling the crowd that he receives more outspoken gratitude from people now than when he returned from war in April 1946.

He suggested a simple way for people to thank veterans: “Every morning waking up and being thankful for this beautiful life and beautiful country.”

Gibbs, who spoke before the mic was opened to contributions, also spoke of legislation approved in the most recent session to provide free hunting licenses to wounded warriors. He said “we really need to work better at improving programs” for veterans.

Gibbs said he was working in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 11, and it began a lovely, clear day similar to Monday’s weather.

“I’ll never, ever forget looking in the distance and seeing smoke coming out of the Pentagon,” he said, adding that the event “had a profound impact on my life.”

Local veterans including Krystal 93 news director and Navy veteran Roman Moore read the names of fallen soldiers from Colorado.

Soldiers named included those buried in Dillon Cemetery – dating back to World War I – as well as recent deaths of soldiers across the state involved with the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Pen Wimbush, the opening speaker, said the cemetery committee continues to work on putting tombstones on unmarked graves. Of 135 tombstones that need to be marked, donations have made 35 possible.

The cemetery was started in 1885 in an area that today is underwater. It was moved to its existing site in 1962 to make way for Dillon Reservoir. Some 41 documented graves belong to U.S. veterans.

Dillon Mayor Ron Holland spoke, encouraging the attendees to visit Dillon Amphitheater on July 2 for a concert by the Air Force Academy Band.

A veteran visiting from Texas stood and shared with the crowd that it was one of the finest Memorial Day celebrations he’d seen.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.

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