Saturday, May 14, 2016

Remembering local veteran's efforts on Memorial Day

Tennessee Williams wrote, “Life is all memory, except for one present moment that goes by so quick you hardly catch it going.”

With Memorial Day right around the corner, it is appropriate we pay tribute. 
The recent renovation of the Veteran's Hall in Woodland Park ceremony this last week, local Veteran's organizations efforts and volunteers from all over the country call particular attention to the last Monday in May, and throughout the years in perpetuity, for those who served.
"What today is known as Veterans Hall was originally built in 1935 by the Manitou Park Grange.  Located just north of the Shining Mountain golf course the building has been used by various community groups for meetings and various activities.  2001 the building was purchased by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6051 of Woodland Park with the stipulation that the memorabilia left by the Grange remain so that if they wished to use the facility again they could.  The facility is now used by both the VFW and American Legion Post 1980 of Woodland Park," says Larry Ingram, of the American Legion Post 1980.
 "In 2015 a grant was received from the Home Depot Foundation for the renovation of the facility.  This grant not only funded the lumber, paint, sheetrock, wiring and fixtures necessary modernize the facility, but also organized volunteers that are employees of Home Depot and their vendors to do the work.  The renovation was coordinated by D.M.I Builders contracting company.  Over 170 volunteers worked on the renovation which began April 11, and was completed May 11, when a dedication ceremony was held by the VFW and American Legion Post 1980," Ingram said.
Andy Tyler, Post Commander for VFW Post 6051, was visibly proud of all they had been able to to accomplish recently, the last few weeks, and over the last year, in efforts to secure funding and make the project a reality. As he showed me around the facility Wednesday, he pointed out new paint, exterior flower boxes, interior walls, restored bathrooms, tools, and equipment and even a house-warming gift of a combination smoker/barbecue presented by Team Depot, the Home Depot crew.
Gabe Sneller, Team Depot-Western Division Manager, was gracious on his own, thanking the Veteran group's members and leadership in pulling the project together, as well as for their service to the country. 
"The Thomas E. Kelly VFW Post 6051 was originally located off U.S. Highway 24 on Bluebird Hill where the Pikes Peak Regional Hospital now stands. After the post sold its property there, it purchased the Grange hall and the land from the Phillips family, who were caretakers of the Grange hall after the chapter closed down and had been sitting vacant for approximately 10 years," wrote Tyler, in a preparation of the building history.
"It was stipulated in the mortgage agreement to retain all the Grange items in the event that the local Grange #430 stood back up. The VFW and the American Legion are now the caretakers of the many historical items found in the building that show the growth of Woodland Park over the years," Tyler says.
"The hall has been renamed the Veterans Hall, as it now supports both the local VFW and American Legion Posts. It also provides a meeting place for other organizations within the Woodland Park community," he said. 
"In 2002, the Veterans Hall was a staging area for fire crews battling the Hayman Fire which burned 133 homes, 138,114 acres, and forced the evacuation 5,300 people."
The local VFW post, and Legion organization collectively provides color guards throughout the year at area events and encompasses about 50 local members in the VFW, and about 130 in the American Legion Post, Tyler said. It assists local homeless veterans through the Aspen Mine Center, provides scholarship opportunities through Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen programs, conducts Memorial Day activities.
According to, “Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.”
Memories, of course can divide as much as they bring together. But coming together and sharing the struggle was eventually possible.
“The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I...
It is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act, P.L. 90-363, in 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays.)”
We can all take to heart in the collective memory, contributions, and recent  accomplishments, of area veterans and volunteers as we pause in tribute this upcoming Memorial Day.

Photo Information: 

Photo 1:
Andy Tyler, VFW Post Commander,  provided the short tour of all the improvements achieved in the last few months at the renovated Veterans Hall. 
Photo by Rob Carrigan.

Photo 2:
Kevin Manning, VFW Chaplain, models the smoker barbecue grill gifted to Veterans Hall by Team Depot as a housewarming present. 
Photo by Rob Carrigan.

Photo 3:
Volunteers restore the sign on the front of the Veterans Hall. 
Photo by Larry Ingram.

Photo 4:
More than 170 volunteers worked on the renovation which began April 11 and celebrated at a dedication ceremony held May 11, by the VFW and American Legion Post 1980.
Photo by Larry Ingram.

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