Honor Bell tolls for veterans at numerous events around Veterans Day

Throughout the week surrounding Veterans Day the Honor Bell could be found across the Front Range, from Colorado Springs, to Gilpin County, to the University of Denver, and Golden. We helped to honor the first veterans interred at Pikes Peak National Cemetery, told schoolchildren about the importance of respecting veterans’ service, participated in numerous ceremonies surrounding the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice, and saluted our veteran volunteers. Read on for images and stories from our busy 2018 Veterans Week.

Opening of Pikes Peak National Cemetery

20 years in the making, the Pikes Peak region finally saw the first interments at Pikes Peak National Cemetery on November first. Four men, veterans of Vietnam representing Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, were laid to rest with full honors and their families in attendance. We had the privilege to toll the Honor Bell in their memory. Belladier was Paul LaGrange, veteran and Director of the Cemetery.

Peace with Christ School Presentation

On November sixth we presented HBF’s mission and the importance of respecting veteran service to about 100 K-8th grade students. The kids were incredibly engaged, answering and asking lots of questions. They all loved seeing and touching the Honor Bell.

Serving with Honor Event

On the evening of the seventh the Foundation hosted an event to honor and recognize the veterans who volunteer their time to serve in the Bell Guard. Jean Taylor, Tracy Turner, Denis Spelman, Dean Brown, Daniel McCutchon, and Greg Kuhn were recognized and given certificates and the overcast bells in gratitude for their service. We also did a reprise screening of the film Taking Chance, which so perfectly illustrates the importance of our mission to honor veterans at their passing.

Gilpin County School Presentation

The next morning we were up in Black Hawk at the Gilpin County School. As part of their Veterans Day celebration, we had the honor of presenting the Honor Bell’s mission to the entire K-12 student body and approximately 30 area veterans. The assembly included musical presentations by the students and each veteran introduced themselves. Several active duty servicemen spoke to what the holiday meant to them.

University of Denver reception

On the ninth we attended the opening reception of an exhibit about veterans interred at Fort Logan National Cemetery. A team of students from the history department, along with an interdisciplinary team from across the University, in conjunction with National Cemetery Administration’s Legacy Program, spent months working on an exhibit called More than a Headstone: The Lives and Legacies of Veterans at Fort Logan National Cemetery. Using archival records, primary sources, oral histories, and family interviews, the students created a profile of numerous veterans interred at Fort Logan. The exhibit tells their brief history and shares information about the eras in which they fought and the circumstances of their service. Three of the veterans who are represented in the Honor Bell are included in the exhibit as is Wallace Eakes who received Bell Honors earlier this year. HBF was asked to attend the opening reception and share our mission with the guests. We were honored to see our friends Maj Gen (US Army ret) Steve Best and Mat Williams (US Army) from NCA in attendance. Pictured with the artifact story board is student Lauren Perry who initially contacted us as she was working on the history of Lt. Charles Adams.

Wings over the Rockies

In July of 2018, Wings Over the Rockies opened their new facility, Blue Sky Aviation Gallery, at Centennial Airport. On the tenth, they invited us to join them for an open house event honoring the 100th anniversary of Armistice. In conjunction with the Valkyrie Cadet Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, and a team of Sea Cadets, we had the privilege of tolling the bell in memory of all who had perished in defense of our nation. In the shadow of a WWII era DC-3 (this plane’s initial mission was delivering soldiers to Normandy) the bell was tolled by veteran, Lieutenant David Gillfallan of the Royal Air Force.

Fort Logan National Cemetery 86th Annual Veterans Day Observance and 100th Anniversary of the Armistice

In bitter cold not registering over 25 degrees, with a biting wind and falling snow the Honor Bell participated in Fort Logan National Cemetery’s observation of Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of Armistice. The Centennial Commission had called for the tolling of bells in their Bells of Peace initiative, and across the world at 11:00 local time bells were sounded in memoriam and celebration. The Honor Bell was privileged to take part and, for the first time since it’s casting, tolled eleven times rather than the standard seven of our Bell Honors ceremony.

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 100 years after World War I ended, the bell was tolled first by David Lyons, US Navy CS 2nd Class. His great uncle Glen Seminare was responsible for transporting the wounded and dead from the field of battle in France. Then Sgt Joseph Dempsey took up the lanyard. Dempsey served in the US Air Force. His father, Sergeant George Dempsey, served in France with the 52nd Infantry, 6th Division. After a rousing ceremony including representatives from Great Britain, France, and Canada, the bell was tolled to conclude the ceremony by USAF (ret) Master Sergeant James O’Neal Hughes who is also a long-time staff member at the cemetery.

Golden View Classical Academy

Once again, we had the opportunity to visit Golden View Classical Academy in Golden on the 12th. The upperclassmen were honoring a number or community veterans. We presented the Foundation’s mission and showed the bell to the students. It was a great reception with highly engaged students.