UPDATED: Veterans Day celebrations change but honoring those who have served does not | SteamboatToday.com

UPDATED: Veterans Day celebrations change but honoring those who have served does not

Gary Arentz, who served with the U.S. Navy as a quartermaster second class, salutes the American Flag during a past Veterans Day ceremony. This year, because of COVID-19, ceremonies in both Steamboat Springs and South Routt will be a little different. In Steamboat, veterans will stand in front of the Routt County Courthouse from noon to 1 p.m. and in Yampa and Oak Creek they will ring bells at 11 a.m. but are asking that those watching wear masks and maintain proper social distancing.

Editor’s Note: The Steamboat Springs Veterans Day event scheduled for Wednesday will not be held. Read more here.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — While the tradition of recognizing those who have served in the Armed Forces will look different this Veterans Day, the gratitude of Routt County remains unchanged.

Veteran U.S. Marine John “Doc” Daughenbaugh said he plans to join other local veterans at noon Wednesday as they gather in front of the Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.

“I’m glad we came up with that at the very least,” Daughenbaugh said of the plan. “We had to curtail most of our activities this year, but at least we’re doing something. We’re glad that we’re able to do that, even if it’s just standing out in front of the courthouse. It still raises awareness that there are veterans in the community.”

Fellow veteran Jim Stanko, who served with the U.S. Army, said most years in Steamboat, the members of the VFW and American Legion Post No. 44 meet for breakfast before spending the day visiting Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools. Students there would take part in a program that underlines the importance of Veterans Day, and recognizes the veterans from the community that have served. Many of them attend the events wearing their uniforms and medals.

The veterans also took the time to visit the Doak Walker Extended Care Center at Casey’s Pond to be with their fellow service members who can’t make it to the events at the schools.

“These are very special days to us, and we always try to get together and plan activities and enjoy each other’s company,” Daughenbaugh said. “We enjoy being a part of the community and letting the community know how many veterans we have here in the Steamboat community and that we are active, and we enjoy being a part of it.”

Stanko said that the schools have always been a huge part of the local Veterans Day celebration, but the spread of COVID-19 have forced different plans to be made this year to protect the veterans and the community as a whole. This year, Stanko said having the veterans stand in front of the Routt County Courthouse seemed to be the best idea.

“We’re expecting between 25 and 35 veterans to show up for the event,” Stanko said. “We’re just going to be lined up, so that people know that this is Veterans Day, and it is an important day for us.

All the U.S. military branches will be represented, he said.

“We hope people will come by and honk their horns or stop by and say they appreciate what the people standing there did for their country,” he said.

Army veteran Tina Kyprios said the VFW and American Legion are reaching out to the elementary schools with hopes of continuing to teach about the meaning and importance of Veterans Day. The group has shared links to a couple of professionally produced videos including Van Morris’ “Old Glory” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”

The students are expressing their thanks through a page on Padlet.

“These are both videos that as a group, both Legion and the VFW, we spent a lot of time trying to think what could we share,” Kyprios said. “We decided that these videos that professionals have done a little better than anything that we could come up with that kind of share the same message.”

In South Routt, this year’s Veterans Day recognition also will be scaled back. There will be small ceremonies at South Routt Elementary School in Yampa and at the Tracks and Trails Museum in Oak Creek, both at 11 a.m. The bell in front of the school and at the museum will each ring 21 times, with 21 seconds between to symbolize a 21-gun salute honoring the veterans.

Johnny B. Good’s Diner and Ore House at the Pine Grove in Steamboat will also continue a tradition of honoring veterans with free “thank you” meals on Veterans Day. Veterans can stop by Johnny B. Good’s from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and pick up a meal or dine-in for free. Veterans can also dine in at Ore House where they can order off the sunset menu. There also will be an additional choice of an 8-ounce prime rib dinner. Veterans will need to call and make a reservation.

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