Memorial Day events planned

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It is widely regarded as the opening day of fishing season, but May 30 has a much deeper significance.

It is Memorial Day; a day in which all of America honors the war veterans who proudly served their country.

The members of American Legion Post 44 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4264, both based in Steamboat Springs, will host special Memorial Day ceremonies this weekend, starting Friday. The ceremonies are part of a national tradition that dates back to 1868.

This tradition is very important to veterans, such as Jim Stanko, who is a member of the American Legion and a Vietnam veteran. "We have put a lot of effort into keeping this tradition alive," Stanko said.

Stanko hopes that there is community-wide support for such events. "This is a tradition, and I can't stress it enough," Stanko said. "It is very important."

The weekend's events start at 5:30 p.m. Friday, when members of the American Legion and VFW auxiliaries, along with the Boy Scouts, will place American flags on the graves of deceased veterans at the Steamboat Cemetery.

On Saturday, poppies will be sold. The poppy tradition dates back to 1922. Each year, members of the American Legion and VFW sell the poppies to friends and neighbors to raise money and spread awareness of the importance of the day.

On Monday, a public memorial ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the Steamboat Cemetery. Buses will be running from 10 to 10:45 a.m. to transport anyone interested to the ceremony.

The ceremony will include a dedication of the new flagpole that has been added to the cemetery. It also will mark the 60th anniversary of the ending of World War II and the 30th anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam War.

The highlight of the ceremony will be the symbolic changing of the guard, as is seen at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. The older veterans, who for years have celebrated the memory of those lost, will pass on the honor to the next generation of veterans. Rick Reinhard will serve as the Sergeant of the Guard, and Rod Herman and Robert Nelson will serve as sentries. Herman and Nelson served in Operation Desert Storm.

After the changing of the guard, there will be a memorial wreath-laying ceremony. State Sen. Jack Taylor will serve as honorary speaker, and Rowan McQuarrie will play the bagpipes.

In past years, more than 300 people have attended the Memorial Day ceremonies, Stanko said.

Stanko is proud of the way that the tradition of Memorial Day is brought to his community. "It is a national tradition that we have carried on very proudly in Steamboat," he said.

When the ceremony is complete, a luncheon will be served at the Community Center in Steamboat from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The luncheon is for all veterans and their families.

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