Memorial Day Celebration was held at the Las Animas/Bent County Cemetery at 9 a.m., and 11 a.m. at Fort Lyon National Cemetery.

Memorial Day Celebration was held at the Las Animas/Bent County Cemetery at 9 a.m., and 11 a.m. at Fort Lyon National Cemetery. Pam Valdez, president of the VFW Auxiliary Post #2411, welcomed the crowd to the 149th Memorial Day celebration since the first proclamation. She encouraged the audience to remember those buried on this hallowed ground. One way to remember is by “doing.” She thanked the VFW Auxiliary and friends for putting the 600 flags on the graves at the LA/BC Cemetery and the Fort Lyon staff for placing the 3,000 flags at FLNC. “This is a form of 'doing,'” she said.

The colors were posted by the VFW Post #2411 Color Guard and they led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Diane Hutson, pastor from the Friends Church of Las Animas provided the invocation. Pam Valdez then introduced the guest speaker at the Las Animas/Bent County Cemetery, Dennis Mattoon, an Army veteran. He read lines from the Gettysburg Address which he felt was one of the best Memorial Day Speeches and also encouraged the living to keep “doing” by participating in causes that support veterans.

At the Fort Lyon service, Fernando Vasquez, Fort Logan and Fort Lyon Cemetery Technician, spoke on the freedoms we enjoy, which are a direct result of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. He reminded the audience about the Moment of Remembrance (silence) observed at 3 p.m. that day.

Pam shared that Memorial Day became real to her when her mother was presented the folded American Flag at her father’s (Ted Kuhns) funeral in December, by a naval veteran on bended knee. That flag identified her father as a veteran and this was the final respect his country showed him as an American soldier. She heard that there were meanings behind the folds, but after searching she found that there was no “original” meaning for each fold and that several organizations have created their own scripts.

“I wanted to create a script that would reflect the physical, emotional and spiritual attributes of the American Flag, our symbol of the United States of America…to tell a story,“ said Pam. She proceeded to explain why she named each fold of the Flag folding ceremony. She concluded that as long as this national symbol flies it gives us hope. “Our flag has been disgraced, stepped on and even burned. All I can say to those who would disrespect our flag is … 'You have never been handed a folded Flag.'”

Immediately after Pam’s speech, two representatives from the American Legion came forward and performed the Flag Folding Ceremony as Pam read the meaning of the folds. The first two preliminary folds describe the American People: Determination and Unity. The next 13 folds remind us of the 13 colonies. Fold #1 - Our Independence and Fold #2 - Our Individuality (stars). The next two folds remind us of the blue Union background: Fold #3 - Perseverance and Fold #4- Justice for All. The next two for the white stripes, Fold #5 – Pure Intensions and Fold #6 - Moral Innocence. The next three folds are for the American Soldier (red stripes). Fold #7 - Courage, Fold #8 - Hardiness, and Fold #9 - Their Bloodshed. Fold # 10 - Family, Fold #11 – Praying Nation, and Fold #12 – Our Pledge of Allegiance. Lastly, #13 is a fold and a tuck – represents God, Almighty, for He holds us together as a Nation, just as that last tuck holds the folded flag in position.

A wreath was presented by the VFW Auxiliary members of Post #2411, to the center flag pole while "The Memorial Song" by Tony Mullins was played by Mardonna Moreland. The flag was symbolically presented to all the deceased American veterans, by Richard Devlin. The American Legion Post #6’s Honor Guard, under the direction of Commander Johnny Comacho, executed the gun volley salute and echo TAPS was provided by the VFW Post #2411 and American Legion #6, both from Las Animas. VFW Post #2411 members retired the colors to conclude the ceremony. The Avenue of Flags were put up by the Tomlin family early in the morning and with the gentle breeze made a beautiful scene at Fort Lyon National Cemetery. We were also thankful for the 50 folding chairs donated to Fort Lyon from Fort Logan National Cemetery.