Loveland’s Veterans Day celebration earns national designation |

Loveland’s Veterans Day celebration earns national designation

Steven HayesRows of 9,387 white crosses mark the graves of American war heros at the Normandy American Cemetery and Monument. The cemetery sits on 172.5 acres on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel. Most were lost in the D-day invasion on June 6, 1944.

Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced that Loveland’s celebration was one of 41 regional Veterans Day observances recognized by the Veterans Administration. These sites are model community events for the observance of Veterans Day 2009.

“Veterans Day is a national ‘thank you’ to the men and women who have served all of us in uniform,” Secretary Shinseki said. “These regional observances enable the federal government to bring resources closer to more veterans.”

Loveland’s Veterans Day organizer Tony DuMosch, American Legion Post 15 said, “We hold the largest Veterans Day event in the state and one of the largest in the country.”

“Loveland is only one of two communities in Colorado who still ring the bells of freedom just as they had done on Nov. 11, 1918. It was then that bells of all kinds rang around the world to signify the ‘war that was to end all wars’ was over.” (At that time no one could imagine any war being greater.)

DuMosch continued, “I like to think of the ringing of the bells as a sign of hope and peace, but we ring them in honor of the veterans. The bells range in sizes from large church bells that take a fork lift to move them on to the truck to the small farm dinner bells that weight about 70 pounds. Each truck with a bell will have their own ‘zone’ or area of the city and ring the bells as they go through neighborhood streets from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.”

“Those who have just moved here from out of state may be awakened and feel disturbed, but this has gone on for so long we now get more requests to ensure we go by a veteran’s home or the assisted living home just because they know the significance and the meaning,” DuMosch added.

“By 6 a.m. the bells have stopped, with only a few still ringing as they come through the Loveland Burial Park Cemetery in honor of those who have passed. Over 50 American 9-by-5-foot casket flags are raised by the local Boy Scouts, veterans, and volunteers.”

“Each of these flags was donated by a family member who wanted their loved one remembered every Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Some of the flags even have the name of the veteran who died for their country written on the leading edge with the service branch and year.”

“In downtown Loveland, Sons of the American Legion also post both the American and state colors down the main streets. Again, history is awakened to those who take the time to reflect.”

“By 4 a.m., at the Associated Vets Club at 305 Cleveland Ave., the ladies will already be busy cooking breakfast that starts at 6 a.m. and continues till 9 a.m. ($6/plate). Military in complete uniform from past and present eat free.”

“To see uniforms and veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Cold war era, and even today’s modern war on terror is a sight to behold. Some soldiers require a walker, others are hard of hearing, a few are nearly blind, but they wear their uniforms with pride just as they did many years ago.”

“The veterans bring a true sense of history to life that no history books can do. The men and women of various service branches and eras all revisit the times they once had, share stories, and some cry, even today. All while having an early morning breakfast.”

The Vets Club will be Open Free for the public to view the table displays that tell the military history of local veterans and other information from 6 a.m.-10:30 a.m., when the display is closed for the parade at 11:11 a.m. (It was on the 11th month of the 11th day of the 11th hour and the 11th min when armistice was signed in 1918.) The parade can be viewed on Garfield Avenue between 4th St. and 13th St.

By 10 a.m., people and equipment prepare as they stage on 3rd and Railroad and 3rd and Cleveland for the parade. Vehicles to be admired come for the parade – like Russ Morgan’s fully operational WWII Stuart light army tank, or the Korean war deuce with a 60 cal mounted on the cab, or the 1918 WWI U.S. Army truck, or the modern day equipment the military brings to show off their own pride. Once again history is being revived.

The Elks Club of Loveland buses in over 500 fifth-graders from local schools to line the parade route. Flags are handed to the kids with pride, while families take their places along the route.

DuMosch reminisces, “The parade starts at the Dwayne Webster Veterans Park with a blast of a fire truck siren followed by the sound of a single trumpet that plays our national anthem as we stand at attention, salute in silence and pride. Along the route veterans feel the sense of gratification, as some ride while others march. Daughters of the American Revolutionary War, Marine Corps League of Loveland, VFW, and other organizations that treasure their heritage join in the parade.”

“Along the route, signs are held high saying ‘Thank you’ to veterans, while others say ‘Welcome home,’ and the kids wave those flags and cheer. Some are veterans who sit on the side of the road watching the parade pass by, and one might wipe a tear from his eye because he knows his own pride runs so deep, but no one ever knew he served on Hamburger Hill.”

The mile long parade will end where it started at Dwayne Webster Veterans Park at the Veteran Memorial, but the floats and historic vehicles will be parked for another chance to view them. The “Path of Freedom” made of bricks inscribed with names of friends and family leads the way to the Veteran Memorial.

Guest speaker, Latoya Lucas, will take time to reflect, and War Mothers (Blue Star and Gold Star Moms) of Loveland will be honored. The ceremony will end with a 21-gun salute, and the bugle sounding taps as the doves begin to fly. The familiar service melody for each branch will be played by the local high school band while the members of that branch stand at attention.

The public is invited to return to the Veterans Club at 1 p.m., where lunch will be served by Squadron 15, Sons of American Legion. ($3/plate.) Displays including military memorabilia and information about benefits and other assistance for Veterans and families will be made available. Entertainment, camaraderie, and lessons to be passed on will go well beyond a 12-hour day for these veterans.

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