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Veterans Storm Cripple Creek - 2011

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Thunder Roads Colorado - October 2011 issue
by Joe Farrow

Out of anticipation of the forthcoming weekends events, I was compelled to ride out to Cripple Creek on Friday to see where people were set up and get a general feel for this years Annual Sa-lute To American Veterans event before the crowds arrived on Saturday. When I arrived in town, I noticed there were more bikes than I had seen in years past lined up against the curbs. That tingle of excitement started in my chest.

Saturday morning as I loaded up my bike, I could hear the unmistakable drone of motorcycle engines. As I headed up through Woodland Park, people were setting up lawn chairs along the route to watch and not much further down the road, the number of bikes increased to the point where the right hand lane belonged to them and them alone. I thought to myself, “This year the parade just may be the largest ever!”

There were already a thousand people when I arrived in Cripple Creek and they kept coming until both sides of the street from one end of town to the other was filled; it was standing room only! In only a few short hours, several thousand more showed up and began taking up their positions in anticipation of the parade, which is divided into two parts. The first is lined with cars, mounted Military Color Guard, march-ing Young Marines, Active Duty Military, POW’s, people in period costume and others who have faithfully served our country. When the first part of the parade ended, you heard the familiar sound of a police car siren far up on the hill at the entrance to town. Here they come! Led by the Patriot Guard, thousands of bikes storm into Cripple Creek! You feel the pride for this nation and its veterans in your chest as they ride by revving their engines and the crowd is in an uproar waving flags and cheering. It seems that there is no end to the line of bikes coming down the road and the cheers seem to increase in volume along with the rumble of the pipes for 30 or 40 minutes. Then it gets quiet, except for the laughter and the exclamations as people now get down to the business at hand…shopping, gambling, listening to music and enjoy-ing each other’s company.

Up the hill there is a solemn ceremony in the park where our fallen, wounded, missing, current and past heroes are honored. Today’s ceremony also included Bady, a Patrol Dog that was honored because he is credited with saving over 100 lives. His handler and best friend gave his life in combat and Bady eventually lost a rear leg as a result of the same action. 2 Ex-POW’s from Korea and WWII speak and soldiers recently wounded are honored.

For some this is a place and a time to heal, perhaps just a little. Some meet old friends while others meet new ones by looking at patches, asking questions and gaining new understanding about what it means to be a vet and living in today’s world. This rally blurs the lines between the different services and blends them into one……..Veteran. Job well done!

Joe

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 October 2015 14:44