This is the next to last in a series about Ft. Garland, Colorado. I believe that readers are starting to see why we consider this such an ideal place to live and it may also be the best kept secret of desirable places to live. This blog highlights the deep seated patriotism and loyalty the members of our community have toward the USA and those who have served our country in the armed services. The photo above is a recent photo of Veteran’s Park which some members of our community established to honor those serving in the armed forces: past, present and future. The memorial itself is engraved both front and back with the names of those military men and women who have faithfully served this country.
I was present at the dedication of this park several years ago. We heard politicians give speeches, had the flag raising and the dedication of the park. It was a solemn occasion when those officials tried to put into words that which can’t be described in mere words but has to be experienced. Most of those present had served like myself, or have/had loved ones who have served. It is a place that has a special feeling to it and reminds me of how people react when they first see the Grand Canyon. When I and others approach the rim of the canyon without even being aware of it you tend to whisper. This park imposes the same awe and respect. I noticed that feeling once again when I went to take the above photo. It is a place to enter upon with reverence and it stirs you deeply.
As they raised the American flag to officially dedicate the park you could look around and see those who had served. They were the men and women who stood a little taller and at attention, removing their head gear and had their hand over their hearts. Those present in uniform saluted. They were the ones out of their wheel chairs and standing to honor flag, constitution and country. Some stood with great difficulty but they stood. They were the solemn ones there to pay honor to their country and fellow comrades. They were the ones who had taken an oath to protect and defend the Country they love so deeply and it was clearly visible in their faces. As we all stood there it was clear that should our country have need of our service again they would not hesitate to step up and recommit to that oath they took so long ago.
They stood honoring and remembering their comrades both living and deceased. They came from every branch of service and were brothers/sisters in arms. They crossed every ethnic, political, racial and religious boundary in their commonality. They fought for and defended flag, country and constitution fully willing to sacrifice their most precious possession – their life – if called upon so others might remain free. If you could have heard the combined inner thoughts of those present it would have gone something like “This is the USA by God; I served once and I’d gladly serve again if my country needs me”.
Every one of us who had served and was at the dedication of Veteran’s Park had to take the oath to protect and defend this country and that is one oath you take very seriously. That oath goes like this: ” I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God”. It is an oath that has been said by those who went before us, said by ourselves and those who go after us. It is a solemn and serious occasion and we all know exactly what it represents.
When you raise your right hand and take that oath your life changes and you are one body that will not quit defending your country until your last breath if necessary. Taking that oath defines who and what you are as a person. Young men/women grow up fast, older men/women are renewed in spirit and commitment, and all men/women stand just a little taller.
May God Bless the United States of America and God Bless those from Costilla County, Colorado who serve, have served and who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. It makes a person proud to live in such a country /county like the Ft. Garland, community where dedicated and patriotic men and women are your neighbors. Yes, this is just a good place to live and experience life. Good community, good people, good mountain views, and good healthy living. It is home.
For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and Ft. Garland go to: http://www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com