News: Rally salutes veterans
Story by Spc. Nathan Thome
CRIPPLE CREEK — Fort Carson soldiers, veterans and patriotic Americans from across the nation participated in the Salute to American Veterans Rally, Aug. 16 through Sunday across southern Colorado.
The rally included a motorcycle ride from Woodland Park to Cripple Creek, Saturday.
“The ride started 26 years ago, where we put prisoner of war and missing in action flags on our bikes, and the purpose was to call attention to POWs and MIAs and their plight,” said Jim Wear, founder of Salute to American Veterans Rally.
Wear said the rally has grown exponentially.
“There were probably 25 bikes the first time, and today there were about 3,500 bikes,” he said. “Somewhere along the way it turned into an overnighter, then a two-day deal, and now it’s a three-day event.”
People from all over the country gather at Cripple Creek every year to salute the veterans.
“The atmosphere is humbling, very honorable, very patriotic; it makes you feel really proud to be an American,” said Wear. “The people of southern Colorado are extremely patriotic and supportive of the military, and they represent a core of the people who come to Cripple Creek. It’s really an opportunity to thank our Vietnam vets, who never got a proper welcome home, so we provide one for them here.”
The ceremony has been held formally for 18 years, and for 15 of those years, soldiers from Fort Carson have been involved.
“The purpose of this event is to honor all soldiers from past and present … honoring the greats from World War II, Vietnam, the Cold War, Korea; it’s to honor all those who have gone out of their way to preserve the freedom of the United States,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Mullins, treatment platoon sergeant and Sergeant Audie Murphy Club member, 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Mullins arrived at the 4th Inf. Div. last year, and said that Fort Carson leadership made sure to have participants help honor the veterans that paved the way for today’s soldiers.
“I feel very honored to be a part of this, it was a great opportunity, said Mullins.
The Salute to American Veterans, and the POW/MIA Rally, is a community effort to salute veterans, POWs and MIAs.
“It’s just an awesome thing to get all these veterans out here; it’s just awesome that small town America hasn’t forgotten about soldiers,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Maddi, senior enlisted leader, 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. “This started 26 years ago, before I was in the Army. I was given the opportunity to come down and be a part of it last year; it’s an amazing thing and as long as I’m in Colorado, I’ll continue to come every single year.”
Maddi expressed how proud he was to have soldiers volunteer to spend their time to go to Cripple Creek and honor those who served before them.
“It’s a testament to modern-day soldiers; they don’t forget about the guys who came before, and they won’t forget about the sacrifices made in the past,” said Maddi. “The guys today give their full measure, and there are a lot of people who have given their full measure to their country so things like this could happen.”
The rally continued to Mount Pisgah Sunday, where a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pike’s Peak region memorial wall was held to honor those from Colorado Springs and surrounding counties who have lost their lives within the last year.