For the 60th year, people gathered at the 10th Mountain Division War Memorial Monument at the entrance to Ski Cooper at Tennessee Pass to pay tribute to the soldiers of the 10th and the 99th Infantry Battalion who gave their lives for their country.
Anyone who skis a slope or climbs a mountain should do it in memory of the mountain troops, said Rev, Jeremiah Harris, who is associated with the 10th Mountain Division Living History Display Group.
The keynote address was given by retired Col. Matthew J. Fitzgerald who explained that Memorial Day (not to be confused with Veterans Day) initially was known as Decoration Day and changed to Memorial Day after World War II.
Mountain soldiers, said Fitzgerald, are all cut from the same cloth, displaying characteristics such as stubbornness, competitiveness and love of the outdoors.
“This is why we join mountain units and fight so hard for our mountain brothers,” Fitzgerald said.
He noted the many contributions the soldiers of the 10th made after returning home, both nationally and to their local communities.
“What did the nation lose with those who never made it home?” he asked.
“This is not a perfect nation,” Fitzgerald said. “Our rights are not free but come with responsibilities. We are morally responsible for holding our leaders accountable and to support members of the military before, during and after their service.”
“Those who fought for freedom – their departure leaves a void in our lives,” he concluded.
As part of the ceremony, three profiles of the fallen were given and Flint Whitlock, co-author of “Soldiers on Skis” and a 10th Mountain descendant recited “Soldiers don’t Cry.”
The ceremony concluded with wreaths being placed on the memorial, a 21-round rifle salute and “Taps”.