Steamboat Springs community pays tribute on Memorial Day to those who have fallen

Audrey Dwyer
All branches of the military were represented during Monday's Memorial Day ceremony at Steamboat Springs Cemetery
Audrey Dwyer

— As flags billowed in the wind, a hush fell over the crowd gathered at Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony in Steamboat Springs Cemetery.

“Why do we remember our veterans?” asked Buck Buckland, one of the speakers at the service and a past American Legion post commander. “Because sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance.”

Memorial Day, Buckland explained, is a day when citizens become more aware of and recall the sacrifices made by those who died serving their country.

“Far too often the nation as a whole takes advantage of the freedoms all citizens enjoy,” Buckland said. “But those freedoms were paid for by men and women who have remained mostly anonymous. They came from all walks of life and regions of the country but they all had one thing in common, a love of country and loyalty.”

To remembrance of the fallen, Monday’s ceremony included the marching of the service flags, a firing party and presentation of the National Colors. There was also a changing of the guard.

Tony Weiss, VFW post commander and an Army veteran of Desert Storm, said there are 193 Army veterans, 68 Navy veterans, 19 Marine veterans, 16 Air Force veterans and two Coast Guard and Merchant Marines buried in the Steamboat Springs Cemetery. This year, a few of those veterans were named during the ceremony.

“It’s an honor to be part of this,” said Doug Werner, who is a Vietnam veteran drafted into the Army in 1968 and a Steamboat resident who has been participating in the local Memorial Day celebrations since 1970. “It’s something the VFW and Legions hold close. We don’t want people to forget their sacrifice or the blank checks that we all wrote.”

Routt County hosted its first Memorial Day ceremony in 1921 and the event has continued to grow over the years.

“It’s just what we should do, it’s part of being a citizen,” said Betty Kemry, who comes every year to honor her husband who was a veteran and member of the American Legion. “It’s a hometown ceremony, and it’s so meaningful because the vets show their honor for the ones who have passed.”

The event, which was sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4264 and American Legion Post 44, came to an end with the placing of a wreath on the cemetery’s memorial stone while a bugler played taps and a row of riflemen discharged three shots in unison that rang throughout the Yampa Valley.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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