Hey. Can we all just stop for a minute to recognize... you guys? You guys, watching Next with your phones out, and doing some good.
Tuesday, we recommended you check out the holiday event over at the Colorado Freedom Memorial. They put a call out for volunteers to help light candles for each of Colorado's fallen veterans - 6,023 of them.
And it's clear that a huge number of you were up for the job. Next viewers stuffed the sign-up list, filling all of the volunteer slots by show's end.
Even better, the Memorial added more slots, and those were filled too, just a couple of hours later. So... give yourself a little pat on the back.
Rick Crandall, who manages the Memorial, thinks you deserve it.
"As much as you have to do, and I in my day job have to do, talking about some of the bad things that go on, some of the disconnect in this world deep in the heart of America, there's good and when we get opportunities like this to show. It's a cool thing," he said.
He got this idea from Gettysburg, where they do this every once in a while:
In May of 2000 as I was sitting at the American Cemetery above Omaha Beach in Normandy, France I was overcome with a sense of grief. There, among the 9387 resting in peace including 88 from Colorado, I had just learned that likely less than 20% of them have ever had a visit from family. They lie 4800 miles from home, a distance that would have been difficult for most to travel in the 1940’s and as time passed and first hand memory of their sacrifice disappeared they had often been forgotten. So here I was in the middle of a field of heroes and I felt compelled to somehow bring their memory home with me when I left. Young men I reasoned should not be forgotten.
Of course you know the rest of the story. After 13 years of trying to raise money and rally the community around the idea of the importance of remembering our fallen we succeeded in building the Colorado Freedom Memorial and brought those 88 from Normandy and thousands of others home, by name. At last Moms who never had a grave here at home to visit could come to the Memorial and sit with their child’s name. And in the three years now since the Memorial was dedicated thousands have visited and many will tell you quite openly there is a feeling there, a feeling that tells you they are near.
As great as that is I’ll share a secret. I never felt the story was complete. I know it’s impossible to physically return our fallen to Colorado, but I’ve always thought there must be a way to create something at the CFM that shows a sign, a glimmer, of their lives well lived. Last year we did just that with 6023 luminarias, one for each of the fallen remembered on the Colorado Freedom Memorial. It was breathtaking and those who attended stood in silence among the flickering candles. On the Memorial you can see the names, there surrounded by light you could feel the names.
This week we will continue the tradition of Lighting Their Way Home with the luminarias lit on the nights of December 1st, 2nd and 3rd from 5p to 8p. I invite you to come visit, spend some time reflecting on the tremendous cost of our freedom and be reminded of how precious our lives are. Bring your children and friends and groups. It’s forecast to be chilly so bundle up, but don’t miss it. Perhaps you’ll end up carrying some of their light with you through the holidays.
If you missed all of the opportunities but still want to help out at Colorado Freedom Memorial, here's their contact information. The office can usually use a hand researching. Otherwise, get involved in May for their big Memorial Day event.
And of course, you can go out and see all of the candles for yourself once they're lit. The Lighting Their Way Home event runs from 5 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2 and 3.