For a very long time a yellow ribbon has symbolized a way to keep those we love, who are far away, close to us. People in the military and their families know this better then most. On Saturday August 11, 2012, the yellow ribbons adorned the parade route along Broadway in Denver that welcomed the soldiers back home from far away.
Men and women returning home after a tour of duty have enough on their shoulders just re-adjusting to civilian lives, but often that load is increased by the need to find work. That’s why the day before the parade, the Yellow Ribbon event also participated in a Veterans Career Fair that encouraged employers to take advantage of the incentives offered by new legislation from the federal government for hiring veterans. The event was held at St. Cajetan's Main Hall - Auraria Campus
Promptly at 0800 on Saturday, the memorial ceremony began in front of the Colorado Veterans Monument at the foot of the Capitol steps. “Great is Thy Faithfulness" was sung by the Graham Family Singers; this was followed by an invocation by Chaplain Paula Sarlls, Frank J. Carroll Detachment, Marine Corps League and gala chairperson. Paula was followed by Louetta Smith, who welcomed all in attendance, which included both active and retired service people and their families.
Everyone stood and either saluted or held their hands over their hearts as the AeroSpace Data Facility Co. Joint Color Guard posted the colors. They remained standing when SSgt Aaron Hunt, USAF, sang the Star Spangled Banner. TSgt Scott Deeds,USAF, Ret., and father of fallen hero, Marine LCpl Roger Deeds, acted as event master of ceremonies. Mr. Deeds introduced keynote speaker MajGen James A. Kessler, USMC.
The General began his address with “I am honored to be here today as we remember the sons and daughters of Colorado who gave their last full measure for their country.” And added, “Believe me when I say that you never forget the sacrifices of each young man and woman that you lose under your watch.” General Kessler spoke the names and gave a brief account of four of the over 90 Coloradoans who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan: Cpl Jennifer Parcell, killed on 7 Feb, 2007, LCpl Dennis Veater, killed on 9 Mar, 2007, Sgt Greg Riewer, killed on 23 Mar, 2007 and Sgt Michael Tayaotao, killed on 9 Aug, 2007.
After General Kessler’s words, Gold Star families were asked to rise and receive thanks in the form of applause from the gathering. This was followed by the Laying of the Wreaths by paired members of active and retired members of each branch of the military. Aurora policeman Aaron Petrucelli played TAPS while a banner of all the fallen of Colorado was displayed. With the retiring of the colors and a closing song “Proud to be an American” by the Graham Family Singers, the memorial portion of the program was closed, but the fallen will always be in the hearts and minds of grateful Americans.
The Yellow Ribbon Event was both a solemn tribute to the fallen and a joyous celebration of reunion for returning heroes. The parade along Broadway was filled with laughter and enthusiastic shouts of “welcome home!” as contingents of soldiers marched by. Also in the parade were many organizations that support and acknowledge active and former military personnel: The Gold Star Wives of America, The 79th Highlanders Pipe Band, Blue Star Mothers of Denver, Patriot Guard Riders of Colorado, The Woman Marines Association, The Military Order of the Purple Heart, Ashford University, Companions for Heroes and many more. And of course a marching band--The Prairie View High School Marching Band.
I have seen enough of one war never to wish to see another.