AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Donations from the public paid for a new glass panel installed at the Colorado Freedom Memorial in Aurora.
The new panel takes the place of the one shattered earlier in the year and adds more names of fallen military members as a permanent tribute to their sacrifice.
“Still to this day, it floors me how gracious this community is,” said Rick Crandall, president of the Memorial.
Law enforcement gave the new panel a police escort from Broomfield to Aurora.
Fundraisers brought in the $55,000 needed to replace that piece of glass and the opportunity to include new names since the original installation.
A total of 6,000 names of those killed in action or missing in action were engraved on the Memorial. The new panel honors the names of an additional 188 fallen Colorado heroes.
“We’ve been able to add names that we’ve discovered since we built the memorial,” said Crandall. “For those families, over 100 of them, their remains never came home. So those families who haven’t had a grave site, they haven’t had a place… today we bring those names home.”
Glenn Beine’s stepson, David Sonka, died in Afghanistan while serving in special operations with the Marines at a military base.
Sonka died in 2013. He is now one of the new names added to the memorial.
“That shattered piece of glass now represents all of the families, and the way that we feel about how our lives have changed,” said Beine. “Your heart is… it’s in a million pieces.”
Beine says he wishes he didn’t have to be at the memorial to see the new panel of glass installed because of what it represents, but family members like him can find comfort in its presence.
“Colorado needs a place where everyone can go,” he said. “There is a bit of solace that comes from that even after I’m gone, after his family’s gone, everybody’s gone, his name will still be there.”
The Colorado Freedom Memorial in Aurora is located in Springhill Community Park on 756 Telluride Street. It will reopen to the public at noon on Saturday, November 11.
“Anybody that visits can look at all of the names up there,” Beine added. “All of these guys will be remembered.”