Loveland continues to be recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs for the fourth consecutive year as an Official Regional Site for Veterans Day according to Tony DuMosch, a local member of American Legion Post 15. Veterans from every military branch work together at the Associated Veterans Club to continue the outstanding traditions observed at their annual celebration to earn the honor. This year the largest Veterans Day event in the state of Colorado will again serve as a model for other communities. Every year Loveland selects a theme, and this year’s theme is “Welcome Home Veterans.”
This is a day to honor the many veterans from the past and present unlike Memorial Day, which is a day to mourn the loss of our veterans and those who have passed away. Veterans Day is a day to give thanks, a day to remember comrades and share stories, a day given to educate the public, and to welcome home our men and women.
Sunday, November 11th will kick off with the sounds of “Let Freedom Ring,” with the help of the Loveland bell ringers. Over a dozen pickup trucks will be decorated and have a large bell ranging from 50 pounds to 1,000 pounds. Each truck will have its own zone of the city to ring the bells of freedom from 4 to 6 a.m.
DuMosch said, “I personally can testify that people actually come out of their house in PJ’s and wave or salute and/or shout out to say ‘Thank you.’”
The tradition dates back to the early 1960s when a group of veterans decided to re-enact the sound heard across the globe when World War I had ended. In 1918 it was thought WWI was the war to end all war so on the 11th minute, the 11th hour, of the 11th day, and on the 11th month an Armistice was signed. This was signified with the sounds of church bells, school bells and the people who rejoiced in the streets. Once called Armistice Day it was later changed to Veterans Day.
At 6 a.m. in the bitter cold dark morning the Boy Scouts and other volunteers raise over 50 American flags on 18-foot steel pipe flag poles, just as our Marines raised the flag over Iwo Jima. The Boy Scouts raise the flags that were once draped over the caskets of fallen veterans. Each flag has a name, dates and some history that dates back to WWII.
As the sun starts to break at 6 a.m. the Breakfast begins and continues until 9 a.m. The Associated Veterans Club fills with Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coastguard in their different uniforms from all war eras providing a true living history. Hundreds of people come, young and old alike. Breakfast is free to all veterans in uniform, with a charge for others attending.
By 10 a.m., the parade will begin to stage and on the 11th month, 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th minute the parade will start off with the National Anthem being played and (if we’re lucky a Fly-Over will take place). The Parade starts just outside the Veterans Club at 3rd and Cleveland; travels North to 4th, turns West on 4th to Garfield; North on Garfield to 13th St.; West on 13th; and will end one mile down the road at the Dwayne Webster Veterans Park at the Loveland Veterans Memorial for the Main Event including a guest speaker at Noon.
The local Elks Club busses hundreds of fifth graders in from local schools to line the parade route along with hundreds of other spectators. Flags are handed to the kids and along the route signs are held high saying “thank you” to veterans while the kids wave those flags and cheer. This is certainly a living history lesson for all ages that no books can provide.
Lunch is offered at the Vets Club at 1 p.m. by the Sons of The American Legion along with nearly 15-20 various veteran and civilian military support groups there to provide assistance to veterans and their families. Lunch will also be served at the Elks Lodge on 4th Street.
The Vets Club will be open (free) to the public to view various table displays including military memorabilia and information about benefits for Veterans and families all day starting at 8 a.m., but closing at 10:30 for the parade which begins at 11:11 a.m.
Live entertainment to be announced later and a social hour will continue after 3 p.m. at the Vets Club. ❖