~ by Bob Volpe ~
The annual Veteran’s Day Assembly, in the gymnasium at the Woodland Park High School, attracted another packed house.
In fact, this ceremony, hosted by the Woodland Park RE-2 School District, has become one of the premiere tributes to veterans in the area.
Current Woodland Park Police officer and past Army Lieutenant Colonel Beth Huber was the master of ceremonies for the event, held on Friday morning.
There were several vocal and musical performances by choral groups and bands from the high school, elementary school, and middle school.
A few high school students came to the podium and read stories about their family’s military service. The Teller County region prides itself as an extremely veteran-friendly area. On a per capita basis, the area boasts one of the largest contingencies of veterans and active military personnel in the country. One of the main themes of the Woodland Park High School veterans’ tribute involves sharing stories and connecting generations.
A particularly stirring moment was when Stephan Stores talked about his classmate Eric Dickson. Stores and Dickson graduated from Woodland Park High School in 1967.
Stores opened his talk, reminiscing about when he moved to town from California in the 7th grade. He said Eric was the first kid in school to offer him his hand and welcome him to town.
Eric Dickson was the only fatal casualty from Woodland Park during the Vietnam War. He enlisted in the Marines shortly after graduation and was killed in action in 1968. Dickson is regarded as one of the most revered former veterans from the Woodland Park area.
Stores made the point that regardless of differing political beliefs or religion, that we are all Americans.
He stated that it is the obligation of those of us not serving in the military to make our community stronger; a fitting reminder at a time when our country is so polarized.
Other veteran ceremonies occurred on Saturday at the Florissant Cemetery, as the Florissant-Lake George Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #11411 conducted a special Honor Guard Ceremony. Plus, the Woodland Park Senior Center held a special tribute to veterans during their second annual chili lunch.