WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO)– The second day of the annual veteran’s rally in Woodland Park brought in veterans from all parts of the country. The event had food, vendors, live music, and a memorial wall located at Woodland Park Middle School.
Marine Sean Adams was flown in from Georgia to receive a free custom bike for his sacrifices for this country.
Combat Hero Bike Build is a non-profit organization that gives injured soldiers a free custom motorcycle because of injuries they may have sustained on the battlefield. One of the volunteers, Jody Petersen, said the organization enables veterans to show others and themselves that nothing can stop them.
Adams used to ride a Harley Davidson bike but couldn’t after getting injured in Afghanistan. A blast from an explosive took both of Adams’s legs away.
This rally has been a regular Teller County event for more than 30 years. Last year the event moved from Cripple Creek to Woodland Park. According to Jim Wear, president of Pro Promotions, which sponsors the event, the rally “brings the largest number of out-of-state visitors to Teller County of any special event. The Salute to American Veterans Rally is the longest-standing gathering of veterans & patriots West of the Mississippi. Colorado’s greatest celebration of freedom, patriotism, and camaraderie is always free, open to the public, and not to be missed. Join us as we honor, respect, and remember those brave Americans who have given us the greatest gift of all: Freedom.”
This year’s Salute Rally will include the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall, a new feature in the Woodland Park lineup. The actual memorial is made of two granite slabs etched with the names of more than 58,000 American men and women who died overseas during the Vietnam War that ended in 1975 and their date of casualty. The traveling wall is a three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, started in 1996 by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. It stands six feet tall at the center, covers almost 300 feet from end to end, and lists the names of American veterans who died in the Vietnam conflict.
The actual full-scale memorial is located in Washington, D.C., near the Lincoln Memorial. The Memorial site was first completed in 1982, with many enhancements since then. It has become one of the most popular attractions in the nation’s capital and has generated many emotional ceremonies.
There was a time earlier this year that getting the traveling wall may not have been included this year, but patriotic citizens stepped up to the plate to ensure it will be here.
Woodland Park residents Billy Crockarell and Linda Martin called the Veterans Rally organizers to inquire if the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall would be coming to this year’s Rally. Martin said, “We were beyond disappointed to find out that the traveling wall wouldn’t be here. Billy has participated in the Veterans rally for over 30 years, and after each annual rally, he had a new experience to share with me about the “Wall” when he came home. We have attended city council meetings where Jim and Pam had tried to secure some partial funding from the city, so we were upset. We were sad when the council made no attempt to do so.”
Martin then asked the organizers what it would take to secure the traveling wall and that she and Billy generously offered to pony up the $5,000 deposit to bring this important feature to Woodland Park and the 2022 Veterans Rally. Martin said, “There’s a lot of emotional conflict and division going on in our country right now. I feel we should be honoring our military heroes in every way possible. If my city leadership isn’t willing to step up, I am. There is little or nothing more important to me than patriotism and support for our veterans, and this is a small way that I can be a part of making a difference.”
After the request and donation offer, Wear contacted the Woodland Park School District to see if it would be possible to have the wall on view on the Woodland Park Middle school grounds. After touring the site, it was determined that an athletic field is an ideal place for the wall. The school district is 100 percent behind, with the wall on school grounds.
The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will arrive this Thursday and is slated for full display, starting on Friday at the WP Middle School ball field.
The main keynote event of the festival is scheduled for Saturday at Woodland’s Memorial Park at 12:30 p.m., with a POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony. The lineup also calls for a Veterans Memorial Dedication at Memorial Park. A POW/MIA recognition ride will occur between Woodland Park and Cripple Creek earlier in the day.