The Cost of Freedom tribute, a four-day event that honors and remembers our uniformed sons and daughters who have served and are serving our country, is on display until Sunday, Oct. 3 on the campus grounds at CSU-Pueblo.
The American Veterans Traveling Tribute is conducting the event, which opened to the public on Wednesday. The AVTT is a group of military veterans who travel the country to honor, respect and remember those who served their country, and pay special tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
The event also provides an opportunity to those who can’t visit Washington, D.C., to pay their respects.
Several exhibits are on display. These include a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall and Walk of Heroes, to a memorial honoring those who died in the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. An exhibit honoring those who served and died in World War II and the Korean War also are on display.
Pueblo resident Larry Decker, who served in the U.S. Navy for nine years, said he was visiting the memorial display because he felt he had to be there.
“I have nine buddies on that wall,” Decker said, “and this is my way of remembering them.”
Military veterans helped set up displays, chatted with onlookers and shared stories about their military service. Army veteran Christobal Armijo said young adults don’t appreciate what service members experienced during the Vietnam War. It is a time, he said, that veterans wish they could forget.
“People spat on us and called us baby killers, which never should have happened,” Armijo said. “I think this memorial will attract people because of the war that is going on right now. People might know friends who have a loved one, or know someone who is serving in the war.”
Army veteran Delbert Schmeling said young adults need to understand that freedom isn’t free. The names that are engraved on the wall prove that, he said.
“People don’t know the hell we went through, and of the sacrifices we made so they can live free,” Schmeling said.
Butch Chavez, who served in the U.S. Air Force, said he still gets emotional whenever he looks at the names engraved on the wall.
“After all this time, I can’t help but feel sad,” Chavez said.
Army veteran Bob Navarro choked back tears as he talked about how the Veterans Administration doesn’t seem to care about the nation’s military.
“We feel that we have to fight the VA to be heard,” Navarro said. “A lot of vets just throw their arms up and say, ‘I give up,’ and it isn’t right.”
Walter Bedlien and Chuck Wyatt , who also served in the Army, helped escort the memorial wall from Raton. There is anything they wouldn’t do to honor the nation’s military vets, they said.
“I was in the service during the Vietnam era,” Bedlien said, “so this wall is very important to us.”
“We have been trying to get this wall here forever,” Wyatt said, “and we appreciate your university letting us set it up.”
Veterans weren’t the only people to share their emotions. Charlene Garcia Simms, who works with the Pueblo City-County Library District, said she lost two high school classmates in the Vietnam War. The memorial, she said, helps her to remember their sacrifices.
“Every time I go to Washington, D.C., I visit the memorial wall,” Simms said. “I also work with a man who lost a brother in Vietnam, and I get emotional whenever I think about these people.”
Marilyn Centa, who is member of Pueblo’s American Legion Auxiliary Unit 2, said she can’t do enough for active duty and retired veterans, and for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The military man and woman deserve the best, she said, adding that she will do whatever she can to make sure their military services are not forgotten.
“I support everything to do with our veterans and active duty military,” Centa said.
Zav Dadabhoy, the dean of Student Life, said he hopes all students learn about the sacrifices these heroes made so that we can live free.
“I hope every student comes here to see what these gallant people did,” Dadabhoy said. “Students, by and large, know about the Vietnam War from history. However, bringing a piece of it here is more meaningful because we are here in the Home of the Heroes.”
In a brochure provided by CSU-Pueblo’s Office of Student Activities, the event is described as an education for our youth.
“America cannot forget those who sacrificed all, and support all who have served and are serving,” the brochure read. “A person is not gone until the memories are.”
Schedule of events include:
- Friday, Oct. 1 – afternoon ceremony will be held starting at 11:30 a.m., followed by an evening ceremony and live performances at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 2 – All day viewing, music and festival. The CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves homecoming football game will be held at 2 p.m., and an evening ceremony and candle light vigil will be held at 5:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 3 – All day viewing. Morning Service. Community festival. Keynote speaker and closing ceremony at 3 p.m.
Vietnam Memorial Wall
An 80 percent size replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall that contains 100 percent of the names. It is 370 feet long and about 8.5 feet tall at the apex. It was constructed in 1997 and 1998, and began traveling the country in 1998.
The Cost of Freedom Memorial
A series of stand-up exhibits created in gold dog tags to record the names of those who gave their lives for our freedom since Vietnam including present day Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
A stand-up exhibit with illuminated twin towers to assure that “We never forget.” Each name is recorded according to their location at the time of the tragedy.
Walk of Heroes
A series of stand-up exhibits that pay tribute and provide education regarding our country’s history, as well as conflicts America was involved in to insure our freedom. Freedom does not come free and these tributes represent the true cost of freedom.
Vietnam Remembered Art Display
A nationally, acclaimed art display of original paintings and other pieces, for viewing, education and reflection.
Anyone can purchase a custom inscribed dog tag to place on the tribute panel. This is a tribute and a personal message to a loved one, past or present. This tribute travels the U.S. with all other exhibits.
World War II
An exhibit to assure all living veterans are honored: pictures and information to pay specific tribute to WWII veterans will be displayed.
A beautiful pictorial display of the men who fought the forgotten war along with battle maps and the war timeline.