CREEDE- The Creede Elks Lodge 506 made a decision late last week to go ahead with plans to host their annual Memorial Remembrance ceremony regardless of the COVID-19 regulations that were hindering the organization from moving forward. Like other communities, Creede took another approach and instead of canceling the event, decided to walk in the face of opposition and honor those who gave their lives in an entirely new light.
The Elks Lodge, in partnership with several guests and members of the community, gathered in their vehicles at the beginning of Creede’s Main Street Memorial Day for a parade through town.
Vehicles were decorated in American Flags and signs of local fallen military members as well as those who are still in active duty. Those who came to watch also remained in their vehicles but showed support through signs and honking horns. Even young children waved to the Color Guard that proceeded the parade as they sat in vehicles on the side lines.
Once the parade was concluded, Elks Lodge members gathered in the lodge located above Main Street and hosted a live showing of their remembrance speech on Facebook. Though the setting and nuance of the ceremony had changed, one thing remained the same. The fact that those who attended were there to remember those who gave everything for us to have our freedom.
After a brief welcome and prayer conducted by both Ray Dellenbaugh and Elks Lodge member Jim Van Ry, and local Creede School teacher Lieutenant Colonel Jason Whitehorn took to the podium to speak. Whitehorn began his speech by thanking everyone who worked to make the remembrance ceremony possible and those who attended and participated in the parade. “I want to thank everyone who made this possible. The title of my speech today is, “Never Forget and Forever Honor.”
Whitehorn explained the meaning behind his words, stating that during his time in Iraq in 2008/2009 he attended a string of funerals and one in particular stood out in his memory when a clergyman said these words, Never forget and forever remember. “If you have ever attended a military funeral, you know that they are something special. You remember certain things, how things smelled, faces, trees that sway in the wind and it is something that makes sense. This particular funeral was one of those moments for me.”
Whitehorn continued, “This has been an interesting situation. I recently watched my daughter graduate on the big screen, and it will be something we will never forget. Today, this year is something we will never forget.”
“I apologize for my uniform today. The military usually dictates what uniform we wear. They are good at that, dictating. But today as I was preparing for this speech, I was considering our own fallen soldier, Clint Ahlquist, and thought about what kind of guy he was. I have been doing this for 24 years, and during that time I realized that this was the uniform I had made friends with, this is the uniform that defines who I am and defines all young men and women in service. That is why I am wearing my combat uniform today. Never forget and forever remember.”
Whitehorn ended with a quote by John F. Kennedy, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” He continued, “Today is about remembering. Memorial Day should be celebrated every day in my opinion. We fought for these freedoms. We are not a country unless we are recognized by our freedoms. Freedom is not free. You need to understand that it was not the reporter or journalist, the church or the politicians that gave us our freedom. Freedoms were paid for and brought by the young men and women that served.”
“It is the mother, father, spouse, or family member that bares that weight today. Never forget, forever remember. Be grateful. Live in gratitude. Freedoms we sometimes take for granted were paid for with blood. Never forget, forever remember.”