AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The first memorial of its kind in the country will honor every Colorado soldier killed in the line of duty since statehood in Aurora.
The Colorado Freedom Memorial will open in time for Memorial Day weekend at Aurora’s Springhill Community Park.
On Monday an honor guard lined the path of an 18-wheeler hauling the glass panels for the memorial that finished the journey to their permanent home.
“On the panels are the names of nearly 6,000 Colorado veterans killed in action since we became a state,” said Colorado Freedom Memorial Founder and President Rick Crandall.
The glass panels are the final piece to the memorial, which has been 12 years in the making.
“What you have behind us is a dream come true,” Crandall said. “It’s been a long time. I know a lot of families who’ve wanted this moment desperately, and to actually have it be here is pretty exciting.”
“It’s a great honor that they’re building the Freedom Memorial,” said John Harris of Denver.
For Harris, the memorial is personal.
“My son was killed in March 5, 2007 in Baqubah, Iraq. His name is on one of these panels,” Harris said. “He wanted to be like me. I was in the Army for 11 years and he went in right out of high school in 2002.”
The memorial will give Harris and many other Colorado families a place to come and remember.
“It’s a great honor to have his name permanently placed somewhere,” Harris said.
“These glass panels in a lot of ways represent bringing them home. A lot of them are buried in cemeteries overseas, a lot of them were lost on ships that were sunk at sea and nobody ever came home,” Crandall said. “Families had no place to go and grieve, so for us, for those of us who have been involved for so long, we brought them back home and that’s always been the goal of this thing. Today we brought them home.”
The memorial will be officially dedicated on May 26.