AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – With Memorial Day comes the dedication of the Colorado Freedom Memorial. The memorial in Aurora honors fallen soldiers from every war dating back to the Spanish-American War and from every branch of the military.

The memorial is now officially open to the public.

“Through our tears, anger and frustration, may we come to see the patriotism, courage and love that compelled the brave souls to serve as our nation’s warriors … willing to give their lives in our defense,” a soldier said at the dedication on Sunday.

“It’s Colorado’s thank you to the Gold Star families whose sons and daughters who went to serve their country and gave their lives defending the world’s freedom,” said Rick Crandall, founder of the Freedom Memorial.

The memorial is the mastermind of Crandall. Over the past 13 years he’s worked to build a permanent way to remember the nearly 6,000 men and women that have fought for the U.S.

“So here now, this is our chance to say to people, ‘We didn’t forget. We’re honoring that sacrifice and there will always be that place where families can come and see that,’ “ Crandall said.

Names on the Colorado Freedom Memorial (credit: CBS)

Names on the Colorado Freedom Memorial (credit: CBS)

“It is absolutely heartwarming. It is so incredible that someone, Rick Crandall, spent such a long time making sure people remember that freedom is not free,” said Patti Sampers, who attended the dedication.

The slanted panels of glass symbolize the fallen soldiers. The jagged pieces are reminiscent of Colorado’s mountains and the water surrounding it represents a war fought overseas.

“It would be wonderful if everyone could come and see this and experience that feeling of knowing there were so many who have gone before,” Sampers said.

The ceremony was an emotional one just ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. Now family members of fallen heroes can know their lives will be publicly celebrated for generations to come.

LINK: Colorado Freedom Memorial


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