I have previously written about how our community honors the men and women who serve in our military, past and present, by establishing a public park solely to commemorate our service members. It is right on highway 160 that goes east and west and is a major highway across S. Colorado. On my way home from Ft. Garland, CO, I decided to stop and pay my respects at Veteran’s Park which is on my route home. As I stood there in front of that granite monument looking upon the numerous names of those who have served in the many conflicts our country has experienced, I am awed by how many from our small county have served in our military over the years. Recent and current conflicts to WW 2 and beyond. With San Luis being the county seat and also the oldest city in Colorado contributions of service go way back.
Men and women from every political persuasion, every religious persuasion, every ethnic background and every social or economic background are represented on that granite monument. They have contributed thousands of years of cumulative service to our country. As I walked around the monument looking at all the names I spied my name carved into the granite slab too and it makes me proud to be included in such a distinguished community of men and women. If I did not have a sense of belonging before, just having my name carved in a slab of granite reminds me I am part of this community and always will be as long as that monument remains.
Costilla County may be a relatively small county, population wise, but its collective heart swells with pride over the numerous young men and women it has sent forth to serve our country and those who have moved here like myself. It may be a small population but it collectively holds its veterans in very high esteem. As I stood silent in front of that monument I reflected back on my service in the USAF. An air refueling squadron, a B-52 bomber group, the SAC Elite Guard, the US Strike Command, criminal investigator, all flood back like it was yesterday. In these times of distrust and political dissension it is reassuring to be reminded that life is really about family and community and not the many trivial things that occupy or demand our interests. Perhaps it is the silence of the park, or the blue sky day, but I think it mainly is being part of that group of men and women and having community and love of country in common. It is good to have our homestead here in Costilla County, Colorado.
I believe that it is important we occasionally take time from our daily tasks or routines and the challenges they present us and stop and reflect and remind ourselves that in the USA we have freedoms that many countries do not enjoy. Whether you have served or not, the freedom you enjoy today has been bought with a price - sometimes a very high price.
If anyone happens to be traveling along highway 160 in S. Colorado and see a T-33 trainer aircraft in a park with an American flag flying, pull on in and reflect on our freedoms and what our park represents. It is also good to remind ourselves that our freedoms didn’t come free. They have been provided by those who have served, presently serve and will serve in the future. As I stood there thinking in front of that monument I felt the political and social woes of today fall away and they were replaced by a sense of confidence that our men and women who currently serve will make sure our freedoms will be preserved for the future. They are betting their life on that assurance.
For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and Southern Colorado life go to: www.brucecarolcabin.com.