Veterans to be honored

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With more than 1,700 military veterans living in Routt County, Veterans Day takes on a particularly special meaning for thousands of area residents.

In accordance with the national holiday, there are numerous local events planned to honor veterans Thursday.

The Steamboat Springs post of Veterans of Foreign Wars will host its annual Veterans Day breakfast from 6 to 9 a.m. at its 924 Lincoln Ave. location. After the breakfast, a group of local veterans will visit the Doak Walker Care Center, where several older veterans reside.

"Veterans Day is for them," said Routt County Veterans Affairs officer Michael Condie. "As strange as it is, there are veterans in homes like Doak Walker, and no one ever identifies them. They need to have people say, 'thank you.'"

In addition to visiting some of the county's older veterans, Condie and representatives from the American Legion and the VFW will be stationed at the Steamboat VFW post to meet with local veterans, touch base with old friends and provide veterans with updates on services available to them and other useful information.

Also on Thursday, the downtown Steamboat post office will honor five of its employees who are veterans with a cake and apple cider and present them with medals. The 10:30 a.m. event at 200 Lincoln Ave. is open to the public.

In Hayden, middle school students will host a lunch for Hayden veterans at 11:15 a.m. in the school's cafeteria. A veterans-led assembly follows at 12:30 p.m. in the Hayden High School auditorium. The assembly is open to the public and will feature several local veterans discussing their service and other related issues with students.

On Thursday evening, the Steamboat VFW post will host a dinner at 6:30 p.m. After dinner, local Marines will celebrate the 229th anniversary of the Marine Corps with a ceremony during which a cake will be cut with a sword, as is tradition. Condie encouraged all Marines and veterans to attend the ceremony, which is replicated across the country and world.

While Veterans Day is celebrated to honor and recognize all of America's military veterans, two local women are continuing their effort to support U.S. troops currently stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Support the Troops, a local group started by Marci Valicenti and Molly Hibbard, has raised more than $7,000 since its formation a year ago. The group has sent more than 100 care packages to troops overseas, shipped more than 75 pounds of tennis balls for bomb-sniffing dogs and granted money to help create college tuition funds for the sons of Staff Sgt. Mark Lawton, a 41-year-old Hayden man who was killed northeast of Baghdad on Aug. 29, 2003.

But with the holiday season approaching, Valicenti and Hibbard hope area residents will help lift the spirits of troops by making monetary donations to Support the Troops or collecting items to be sent in care packages. Some items desired by troops include magazines, CDs and DVDs, books, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, paper, pens, envelopes, pre-paid phone cards, playing cards and batteries. Dry, nonperishable food items such as gum, cookies, candy, nuts, Gatorade mix, gourmet coffee, cereal and Chex Mix also are troop favorites.

Items can be dropped off at Steamboat Real Estate on Yampa Street or Prudential Steamboat Realty in Central Park Plaza. Monetary donations can be sent to Support the Troops in care of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, P.O. Box 774965, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234 or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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