A salute to 2005 Windsor High School graduate Christopher Birdwell as well as all who served since 9/11 called “Colorado Remembering Our Fallen Exhibit” will be held from Thursday through May 26 at Spring Canyon Community Park, 2626 W. Horsetooth Road in Fort Collins.
An official ceremony will be held from noon-1:30 p.m. Saturday with the Green Beret Demonstration Team, music, food, vendors and displays.
Also on Saturday will be information for veterans from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., reading of the names of the fallen from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and “Living History — Veterans Tell Their Stories” at 7 p.m.
The Field of Flags for service members lost since 9/11 will run from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday through May 25, and from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. May 26.
Taps, a bagpiper, color guard and a 21-gun salute will be held nightly at 7 p.m. from Thursday to May 25, and also at 3 p.m. May 26.
According to Windsor resident Brad Hoopes, who is the Veterans Plaza chairman and organizer of the N. Colorado Veterans History Project, Army Staff Sgt. Birdwell will be one of the veterans honored during the event. Birdwell was killed along with another soldier, Spc. Mabry Anders, in Kalagush, Afghanistan, in 2012. Birdwell was serving his third tour of duty in Afghanistan.
“I am on the committee that built the Veterans Plaza of N. Colorado up in Fort Collins to honor all past and present veterans,” Hoopes said through email. “Each year we have a ceremony over Memorial Day weekend to honor a different group of veterans. This year, we are honoring all those who have served since 9/11. As part of honoring all those who have served, we are honoring those who have fallen.”
Hoopes said the event is being done in two ways.
“We will be bringing in and displaying the Colorado Remember Our Fallen Wall, which displays pictures and information on all Coloradans who have died in the line of duty,” Hoopes said. “We are also honoring all Americans who have been killed in action. With this, we will be planting approximately 6,800 flags, one for each service member who has fallen, in the plaza’s amphitheater turning it into a field of flags. I think this will make for a beautiful, but somber, display, especially at dusk and evening when we will have it beautifully lit. On Saturday night, after the Taps ceremony, we will have what we call campfire chats, in which we set up a portable fire pit and invite veterans to come share their stories and the public to sit around and listen.”
The Veterans Plaza website is: www.veteransplazanoco.org.