Veterans’ Day 2013 World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.” -- U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs For Eagle County, Veterans’ Day takes us to thoughts of the 10th Mountain Division and those soldiers trained at Camp Hale (at Pando) for winter fighting in World War II. The 10th Mountain Division is now at home at Ft. Drum, New York, and preparations for the Veterans’ Day ceremonies there this year were adjacent to an 1,800 lb. sculpture, “Climb to Glory,” depicting a World War II soldier assisting a modern 10th Mountain soldier climb a rock face.
A tent nearby was toppled by high winds on the night of November 6, knocking the statue off its base. Happily, it landed in mulch so damage was minimal and restoration will be within a week. Climb to Glory On a more local note, Veterans’ Day is an appropriate time to visit the 10th Mountain Division Memorial in Vail at Slifer Plaza by the Covered Bridge. This is Eagle County’s “local history” and beautifully depicted by Scott Stearman and Victor Issa in a bronze statue of a soldier in historically accurate gear. “Skis (they only came in two sizes, 7 feet and 7 feet, 6 inches), an M1 Garand (the first semiautomatic rifle to be used by the infantry of any country), leather boots and a white ski suit, which was meant to camouflage the solders in the snow. … Everything worn under the ski suits was made from wool.” – Wren Wertin, “Walk on the Arty Side,” Daily Weekly, Nov. 17, 2011 p.4
The soldier has the 10th Mountain Division insignia on his left arm. "The colors are the red, white and blue signifying the United States. The arching 'Mountain' patch designates an elite unit. The dark blue area is a Revolutionary War powder keg, as the 10th was an 'Explosive Division.' And the red bayonets are crossed, representing the Roman numeral 10." -- Charles Leggiero, letter of Nov. 2, 2013 Next to the statue and in line of sight of Gore Creek is a plaque to the Ski Trooper, 1941—1946, noting the battles in the Aleutians and the Apennines. Funds were raised for the memorial by those who served and those who appreciated their service. What better time to visit the Ski Trooper than Veterans’ Day to remember with gratitude those who have served in our Armed Forces, those who returned and those who did not, including those in service today. Thanks, Chuck!