The editor of the newspaper I write for asked if I would do a Memorial Day feature, and I thought about this stone monument erected in honor of the men and women from the area who served in WWI and WWII. Those of us who live here drive by it often without giving pause or thought as to why it was built. In fact, I realized I had no idea when it was dedicated.
I’m sure there was a group of people witnessing whatever ceremony took place. In at least one of the speeches, I’m sure the promise was made that “we will never forget” the sacrifices that were made.
Unfortunately, we do forget unless something makes us take the time to stop and think. In my case, it was an assignment from my editor that re-kindled a curiosity that had been long forgotten.
But it’s almost Memorial Day, and I had an excuse to look for answers to questions I really hadn’t taken the time to ask before. I wanted to — I just hadn’t.
So I drove to the memorial to take some pictures and see what I could discover. The monument has the names of people from Conejos County who served in each of the World Wars. I was stunned by the number. Conejos County is a small, rural area in southern Colorado, and I grew up believing that the only meaningful things that the area contributed were a heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Dempsey, and a narrow gauge railroad.
When we visit memorials, we stand on the threshold of history. I looked at these names and realized each one has a story to tell, and I’m drawn to them. Among them I see my uncle’s name surrounded by others with the same last name. I knew my uncle served in the navy during WWII, but the other names were unfamiliar to me.