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Durango parade to honor veterans

November 10, 2001

By Jennifer Reederz
Special to the Herald

The swell of patriotism that arose after Sept. 11 will manifest itself in special Veterans Day events this weekend, including free access to state and national parks and monuments and the first Veterans Day parade in Durango in more than 30 years.

"This will be the biggest parade Durangoís seen in years," said John Hardardt, commander of American Legion Post 28 in Durango. "Veterans Day honors those who served in the past, present and future."

The parade is sponsored by the American Legion, Elks Lodge and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Hardardt said community response to the parade has been tremendous, thanks to the mood of patriotism locally and nationwide. Scheduled parade participants include veterans from the Southern Ute Tribe, the Colorado Mounted Rangers, local representatives of all military branches, the Durango High School marching band, 4-H groups, the Fiesta Day queen and a local woman who knitted a red, white and blue sweater for her dog.

Hardardt said anyone else interested in being in the parade can show up at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot before the paradeís start.

The parade will start at 1 p.m. and proceed down Main Avenue to 12th Street, where it will turn east on 12th Street and then south on East Second Avenue. The parade will end at the Elks Lodge, 901 East Second Ave., where there will be music and speeches by veterans. Also, the sponsoring groups will hold open houses for the remainder of the day.

"Sept. 11 has really rekindled the spirit of patriotism," said Dennis Guzik, manager of the Elks Lodge. "Itís really drawing the country back together."

Nick Jordan, a trustee of VFW Post 4031, said various members of the community have wandered into the VFW to thank the veterans for their efforts on behalf of the country. "It makes all of us feel very, very proud that we served," he said.

Hardardt hopes the turnout for the parade is as large as the response of participants. He also urges citizens to respect flag etiquette. Observers should wear flag pins on the left side of their chests and remove their hats, or "uncover," in the presence of the flag. When the flag passes by during the parade, observers should stand and place their hands over their hearts, he said.

Members of the public can also celebrate Veterans Day by visiting state parks throughout the weekend at no charge.

"Visiting one of our state parks is one way Coloradans can honor the victims of the recent tragedies and those military personnel who are fighting for our freedoms," said Gov. Bill Owens in a written statement. "Our parks and memorials stand as a place of refuge in these trying and difficult times."

All national parks and monuments will have free admission today through Monday for a "National Weekend of Unity, Hope and Healing," according to the Department of the Interiorís Web site. Mesa Verde National Park will waive its $10 per car entrance fee. Visitors to Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico will save $4.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, near Cortez, will hold a program at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Anasazi Heritage Center near Dolores. Navajo code talkers, who were recruited in World War II to use their native language for intelligence purposes, will screen a movie and talk about their role in the war.

At 6 p.m. Sunday, three Navajo Code Talkers will receive an award at VFW Post 4031, 1550 Main Ave. The three are Wilfred Billy, Keith Little and William Kine. Billy will be a torch bearer at the 2002 Winter Olympics, VFW Commander Fred Riedinger said.


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