MONTE VISTA— The Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Homelake honored the nation’s heroes with the annual Memorial Day Observance on Monday, May 27. The special ceremony included many special events and guest speakers.
Master of Ceremonies Matthew Martinez, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, welcomed attendees and opened the observance. “We are here today to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, because without it, this great nation would not be possible. Today, we remember Monte Vista has recently lost sons and a daughter, Sergeant Glenn Martinez, Sergeant Faith Hinkley and Corporal Randal Rosacker.”
Martinez also asked that the soldiers who are home and fighting issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder be remembered. Twenty-two veterans on average lose their lives to post-war issues per day, and those numbers continue to increase.
“I would like you all to remember what Memorial Day is all about. It’s about Glenn; it’s about Faith; it’s about my fallen brothers Chad and Shawn, and all of those that went before them. Remember those who fought to gain independence, to end fascist regimes, and to bring those who have attacked this nation to justice and those who fought for those who could not fight for themselves. Pay your respects, and remember this weekend was forged in blood by those who are truly America’s heroes,” said Martinez.
After the ceremony had been opened the Fort Garland Memorial Regiment entered the cemetery. Following this the posting of the colors was done by a color guard. El Coro Alegre de San Jose from Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church then gave a stunning rendition of the national anthem. Amazing Grace was played on bagpipes by Tim Lambert. Bob Galey, pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church and veteran of the United States Air Force, then offered an opening prayer. El Coro Alegre returned later to perform a patriotic melody. At exactly 10:25 a.m., while the patriotic melody was being sung, the 120th Fighter Squadron from the 140th Wing of the Colorado Air National Guard from Buckley Air Force Base Flight Crew did a flyover to honor the nation’s fallen heroes and military personnel.
Jack Rudder, of the United States Air Force and the Rio Grande County veterans service officer, then introduced this year’s keynote speaker. Colonel William L. Robinson was welcomed to the podium. Robinson was commissioned from West Point as an infantry officer in 1968. After graduation from basic, airborne and ranger schools, he was assigned as a platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade north of Qui Nhon in Vietnam. He was wounded and spent seven months at Walter Reed Hospital before returning to Vietnam in 1970. He served for many more years and took on several different leadership roles and finally retired from the Army in 1996. He then became the deputy director of the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs until 2009. He currently serves as the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs representative on the Board of Commissioners for Veterans Community Living Centers.
“Twenty years ago if you asked a member of the younger generation what Memorial Day was all about, you likely would have been told that Memorial Day is about the beginning of summer. School is out; the weather is warm; swimming pools are open and beer is cooling down. Some of the smarter kids back then might have thought that Memorial Day had something to do with memory. Perhaps the memories of summer’s past,” said Robinson.
“Times have changed. The last 18 years of war, have, if nothing else have brought back an awareness of those individuals who have served and are serving in the armed forces. This new generation of young, and those of us who are older and wiser, know that Memorial Day is not about memories of seasons past, but about the memory of those who wore the uniform of their country and who are not here to share summer with us anymore— those who were robbed, usually early in life of the pleasures of summer; those who served their country; those who went away and came back in caskets or didn’t come back at all— leaving emptiness for those of us who remain and can enjoy the summers that they will never see,” he said.
Robinson stated that the men and women who were buried in many cemeteries were people like everyone else. “They understood neighbors and they understood towns, nations and knew what Memorial Day was about. They probably attended events similar to this. They answered their nation’s call because it was expected. They probably went to war because it was expected of them. They didn’t want to die. They were afraid, but put duty before fear, duty to comrades in arms, and duty to a country that gives us so much.”
After Robison’s speech there was a presentation of wreaths. Mindy K. Montague, administrator for CVCLC, then read the names of Homelake residents that had been lost since last Memorial Day. A rifle salute was then offered for fallen comrades and Tim Lambert played taps on the trumpet. These events were followed by the tolling of the USS General Patrick Bell. The families of Rosacker, Martinez and Hinkley rang the bells first, followed by anyone in attendance who wanted to do so in memory of their loved ones.
A procession then made its way to a new WWI and WWII Memorial War that was donated by former State Senator Lewis Entz. The wall lists all the names of those who served in the two great wars that were from Rio Grande County and special lettering for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.