Festival to Showcase Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall at Middle School
The hogs are getting revved up again for a popular annual event that combines military and national patriotism with biker celebrations.
The Salute to American Veterans Rally and Festival will kick into full gear this weekend, August 19-20, mostly in Woodland Park.
This rally has been a regular event in Teller county 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 as well as 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 and covers almost 300 feet from end to end and lists the names of those 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 enhancement since then. It has become one of the most popular attractions in the nation’s capital, and has generated many emotional ceremonies.
There was 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 insure 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 like we should be honoring, in every way possible, our military heroes. 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 that athletic field is an ideal place for the wall. The school district is 100-percent behind having the wall located 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. Earlier in the day, a POW/MIA recognition ride will occur between Woodland Park and Cripple Creek.
The event concludes with a live musical concert and additional entertainment at the Historic Ute Inn.
For more information about the Rally, visit www.theveteransrally.org.