Fallen Soldiers, Gold Star Families Honored

By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today

The metallic blue stars provided a stark contrast to the neatly polished gold banisters at Colorado’s state Capitol last Wednesday, Dec. 12. And as the piney scent drew visitors in a bit closer to the majestic fir, it was clear that the Yuletide ornaments held in its boughs were like no others. These handmade, glitter-ridden tokens shining brightly from the Holiday Tree, honored Colorado’s fallen soldiers and their families. Each had a story to tell.

State Senator Larry Crowder (far right, foreground) attends the Gold Star Family Holiday Tree ceremony on December 12 as Gov. John Hickenlooper (center, background) addresses the attendees whose loved ones gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the US Military.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Colorado First Families have chosen repeatedly to dedicate the tree in  honor of Gold Star families, the relatives of US military members who died in battle.  And so it was for Governor John Hickenlooper as he addressed about 150 people gathered in the north foyer under Colorado’s Golden Dome last Wednesday, Dec. 12.

“I want to thank all of the Gold Star families that are here. It’s always the most pointed reminder of the sacrifices made by your family members who lost their lives. I hope that each and every one of you can find some peace and happiness over the holidays,” stated Gov. Hickenlooper as families hung the commemorative ornaments on the 50-foot fir, patriotically dressed in red, white (silver) and blue.

Many relatives recorded the PowerPoint presentation which rotated pictures of their lost loved ones, respectfully displayed with their military honors. Plenty of pictures were taken by the Holiday Tree which was harvested at 8,500 feet in northern Larimer County. And over a generous portion of food and drink, memories were shared as Gold Star families caught up with each other, being members of a club that nobody wants to belong to.

Handmade ornaments with the each soldier’s image are presented to Gold Star Families to hand on the Holiday Tree at the Colorado State Capital. Photo: Saguache Today.

In attendance was Saguache County’s State Senator Larry Crowder, who also serves on the Senate Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs. Senator Crowder is an Army veteran, small business owner, farmer and rancher. While he and his family reside in Alamosa, his Senate District 35 encompasses a lot of Southern Colorado, including includes rural Pueblo County, Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Mineral, Otero, Prowers, Rio Grande and Saguache Counties. 

There are now 4460 names of Colorado soliders listed on The National Gold Star Registry, where readers can search for information on their loved ones or relatives lost in battle. Included in the list is one soldier who named Saguache as his hometown: Tony Abeyta who died in the Vietnam War on September 3, 1963. Do you know his story? Please share it! Readers can also read a #GoldStarFamily story from Saguache Today’s sister new site – Leadville Today, clicking HERE.  

“On behalf of the entire state of Colorado, thank you. Thank you so very much,” concluded the Governor at last Wednesday’s Gold Star Family Holiday Tree ceremony.

Journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin LLC, a digital media company located in Leadville, which publishes two online news websites: LeadvilleToday.com and SaguacheToday.com.

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