PHOTOS: Locals honor Routt County’s departed veterans in Memorial Day ceremony
There are 301 small American flags blowing in the wind beside graves in Steamboat Springs Cemetery. Each flag — one for each of the Routt County veterans buried there — waved in the cool breeze Monday, a tribute to those who left the county to serve their country and those who never returned.
Steamboat Springs American Legion Post No. 44 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4264 held a Memorial Day ceremony Monday honoring three Routt County veterans who died in wartime.
Marine Corps Cpl. Leo John Hill was killed by German machine gun fire in France on July 19, 1918, the first casualty from the county in World War I. Army Staff Sgt. Bernard S. Schubring was killed in Italy on May 28, 1944. Navy Gunners Mate 1st Class Charles J. Cruse went down with his ship during a naval battle near Lunga Point in the Pacific.
The local posts are named in honor of these three men, and a wreath was placed on a memorial to them at the cemetery. For local veteran Jim Stanko, it is important that all who served are honored.
“I grew up with most of the people that are buried in this cemetery,” Stanko said. “Not only did they serve, they are the people that came back and made this community. … They are all here, and I think it is important to honor them and remember them.”
After having a smaller gathering last year because of the pandemic, veterans were glad to see a large number of people showing up to honor the county’s veterans. The ceremony was still different, but VFW No. 4264 Cmdr. Rick Reinhardt said they focused on telling veterans’ stories and not on the pageantry of past events.
“Now, it is more of just strictly a basic ceremony to honor the dead,” Reinhardt said, whose grandfather was killed in the Philippines in World War II. “It is the way that we can pay back those who didn’t make it home.
“We all understand the sacrifice of leaving home, but unless you haven’t come home, you can’t understand that part of it, and we want to keep that spirit alive,” Reinhardt added.
The ceremony included a rendition of taps, with two buglers playing the traditional military tribute song one after another — a version saved for special ceremonies like Memorial Day.
“It is an amazing honor,” said Valerie Bussey, president of the VFW Auxiliary who played taps on Monday. “I’ve been doing it for years.”
For veteran Fred Garrison, days like Memorial Day make him think of his fellow veterans represented by the flags placed throughout the cemetery.
“We’ve all got a few friends who aren’t here,” Garrison said.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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