Local Life

Denver-area opportunities to remember the fallen this Memorial Day

Options for somber and exciting activities


Memorial Day is just one day a year, and as Louetta Smith, director of the annual Denver Memorial Day Tribute event, sees it, it’s not too much to ask to take a few minutes during the day to remember those who have served the country.

“Like a lot of people, for a long time I never really thought of Memorial Day like I should,” she remembered. “But I started getting involved in the tribute, and that reminded me of the importance of gratitude for those who gave their lives for all of us.”

There’s a lot going on during Memorial Day weekend, as it has long served as the unofficial opening weekend of summer. People looking to spend time outside are spoiled for choice, and even while doing something like participating in a beer run, a community picnic, or even a huge Nerf battle, events like the tribute remind people what the day is all about.

The first Denver Memorial Day Tribute event was held on Memorial Day 2000 by Deb Ellis, following the death off her World War II vet father. The event started out with more of a fair atmosphere, but 9/11 and the ensuing war on terror changed the vibe of the tribute. It became an event about the Gold Star families.

“I had attended the City and County of Denver’s Memorial Day Parade and I remember at the time being amazed that the parade was so poorly attended. The country seemed so complacent about military sacrifice — past or present,” Ellis said. “This year, there are more than 40 families that will attend the Tribute, and they come from all over Colorado.”

The Tribute is now held indoors at the POF Hall, 1340 Sherman St. in Denver, just south of the Capitol, and will go from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 26. The event will feature musical tributes from the U.S. Navy Band Northwest Brass Quintet, soloist Rosemary White, violist Valerie Reives and more.

Then, there will be a seven-wreath remembrance ceremony honoring veterans and the fallen from all wars and presentations to the Gold Star families who have lost a loved one since the war on terror, complete with names, biographical information and a Navy bell tolling.

The ceremony is free and open to the public.

Those looking to show appreciation in a quieter way can volunteer at Fort Logan National Cemetery, 4400 W. Kenyon Ave., to help lay flowers at the graves. The flower laying begins at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day, May 28.

“It feels like Memorial Day has lost a lot of its meaning for many people,” Smith said. “It helps to remember what this day is for amidst everything that is happening over the weekend.”


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