Emotional rite in Littleton honors veterans

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Despite the cold weather, church and a Broncos game, Littleton roused a proud battalion of residents to the World War II Memorial in Ketring Park at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when Veterans Day has been observed since World War II.

“Our gathering here is just one small spark in the flame of pride that glows across the nation today,” said Jack Woodman, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Pat Hannon Post 4666.

Woodman thanked the veterans present, and those who were there only in spirit, for making America's armed forces the most respected in the world.

“They didn't go to war because they loved fighting,” he said. “They felt called to be part of something larger than themselves.”

Right on cue, three warplanes graced the crowd with a flyover, garnering cheers and thumbs-up from the boots on the ground. In one of them was a member of Littleton's deep-rooted Trujillo family. Air Force Lt. Col. Pat Hanlon has flown an F-15 over the ceremony for the last several years.

“We're very proud,” said his aunt, Phyllis Trujillo. “We think it's wonderful, and he's doing a good job.”

Michael Romero, commander of the American Legion George C. Evans Post 103, said the tragedies of war are not without great benefits, having liberated slaves, stopped genocide and toppled terror around the world.

“Without our veterans, America would not be America,” he said.

Romero's voice broke as he implored those present to always tend to the needs of the country's vets.

“Today's tattered veteran in the street was yesterday's toast of the town,” he reminded them. “We can do better. We must. … Remember that next time you see a homeless person in the street or a man in a wheelchair or a difficult co-worker that's experiencing PTSD. … Nothing they ever do will eclipse their military service, and they do have the right stuff.”

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