Steamboat Springs John Long served in the Marine Corps for 13 years and served in Vietnam for 13 months.
Memorial Day is significant to him.
"It's a day to honor the service of everyone who has ever worn the uniform -- all the men and women spread across the globe who serve their country," said Long, a Steamboat Springs resident.
Members of the Steamboat Springs Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4264 and American Legion Post 44 today will honor the sacrifices made by local veterans.
The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. at the Steamboat Springs Cemetery. On Friday, the VFW, American Legion, VFW Auxiliary and Boy Scout Troop 194 placed flags on the graves of veterans buried in the cemetery. There are 249 veterans of eight wars buried there.
"This is a very important event that Steamboat has been doing since 1920," said Pat McClelland, financial officer and life member of the American Legion and the VFW. "The show is for the recognition of veterans that have served and given us all that we have today -- this wonderful country and style of life."
The ceremony will include the marching of the service flags, presentation of the National Colors, traditional readings, lowering of the flag by cadets of the Civil Air Patrol, playing of "Taps" and a 21-gun salute by an honor guard firing squad.
State Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, will read the names of Steamboat Springs veterans who have died during the past year.
"We are honoring these people that even after they came home from the service became major builders of this community," Routt County veteran services officer Jim Stanko said. "These people not only served their country, they helped build Steamboat into what it is today."
As each name is read, a Boy Scout will place a flag at the memorial to honor that veteran.
Taylor will present the ceremonial wreath honoring all deceased veterans from Steamboat Springs.
The ceremony will conclude with the changing of the guard. Rick Reinhard will be the Sergeant of the Guard, and the sentries will be Rod Herman and Robert Nelson.
"We put on a ceremony that you have to go to the major cemeteries to see," Stanko said. "The only other place where you can see a changing of the guard in front of a monument is at the Arlington (National) Cemetery."
Steamboat Springs Transit will provide bus service from the Stock Bridge Transit Center on U.S. Highway 40 to the cemetery starting at 10 a.m., with the last bus leaving for the cemetery at 10:35 a.m. The Memorial Day activities will conclude with a picnic lunch at the Steamboat Springs Community Center hosted by the Ladies Auxiliaries and the V.F.W.
The ceremony is more than just honoring those who served our country.
"The ceremony is a traditional way of teaching our young kids about the sacrifices and that freedom really isn't free," Stanko said. "People pay a heck of a price."
Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the May 23 Steamboat Today.