Honoring Those Who Serve

The Second Annual Tri State 9/11 Remembrance program brought the region together this past Saturday, September 14, to honor veterans and a variety of First Responders.  The recent rains through our area may have lessened the number of parade entries and vendors on Saturday, and caused some last minute adjustments to activities at the Prowers County Fairgrounds, but estimates put the attendance for the 5pm ceremonies at around 300 plus.  Mother Nature cooperated to allow mostly sunny skies for the day, in between the rains from this past week and Sunday.

Main Street was lined with parade watchers, from Beech Streets up to Alco, the first time a parade route was headed south along the highway.  Over four dozen entries, including two marching bands, and entries from Fountain, Pueblo and Cheyenne Wells participated in the 10am parade which honored first responders from around the region, as well as veterans who served between the Second World War to the conflicts in the Persian Gulf.  Several auxiliary groups were also showcased, including local Girl and Boy Scout troops.

Doug Harbour who organized the Saturday celebration, as well as the original tribute last year, said that some of the older veterans decided to continue their march in the parade up to the fairgrounds, instead of breaking away at West Lee Street with some other entries.  Once on hand, the crowds enjoyed a noontime BBQ, took a look at some of the displays set up in the Centennial Building, listened to some free rock and roll at the pavilion or inspected the first responder equipment that was on display through the afternoon.

The day concluded with a formal tribute ceremony at 5pm.  Activities in the arena were moved to the front of the grandstands because of muddy conditions, but the last minute changes were hardly noticed by the crowds.  Doug Harbour welcomed the crowd and offered some observations about how 9/11 changed our country and how we became a nation with a new resolve and appreciation for our liberties.

KVAY News Director, Cory Alan Forgue, acted as Emcee for the event introducing Pastor Rod Counter of Las Animas who led the gathering in prayer.  The nation’s colors were posted by an honor guard from the American Legion and local VFW, while local scouts led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lamar High School Notables entertained with patriotic songs.

Former FBI agent and past Lamar resident, Mike Cook, brother of Lamar Fire Chief Marshall Cook was the keynote speaker.  Cook offered a unique perspective of the 9/11 attack in 2001, relating his experiences of that day as having been both at the Pentagon and at Ground Zero in his capacity as a Haz-Mat Coordinator.  He shared two letters that were handed to him during his duties in New York, both thanking him and those who were on hand…from the first day of the attack to weeks and months afterward, sifting through the debris to reclaim the bodies of those who perished when the World Trade Center towers collapsed.

Harbour introduced various first responders and dispatch units who passed in review in front of the grandstand.  Local scout troops went among the audience, handing out roses to the spouses of those who served our area, including military veterans.  One person in particular, Wilfred Rasmussen, who at 93 was the oldest living WWII veteran who attended the observances, received a commemorative medal to note his service.  Forgue and LCC baseball coach, Scott Crampton, described a memorial scholarship created to honor former student, Wade Parker, an Arizona firefighter who died this past summer, battling blazes in his home state.  Crampton and Harbour noted that Parker’s parents had made the journey from their home to be in the grandstand audience for the occasion.

The ceremonies came to a close with a 21 gun salute from the honor guard and a bagpipe rendition of, “Going Home”, performed by Commander Michael Haley from the Fountain, Colorado Police Department, as well as the traditional playing of “Taps”, signifying, ‘all is well, all is well’.

By Russ Baldwin

Brought to you by: Colorado East Bank & Trust


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