By Dillon Thomas
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) — A call for volunteers has been made by the Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation, in hope of once again creating a sentimental display for families of fallen soldiers.
For the third time, the foundation plans to place 6,213 luminarias in front of the memorial before Christmas. Each luminaria, a glass jar with an electronic candle inside, represents a Coloradan who died at war.
“We call it ‘Light their way home,’ because we want (fallen soldiers) to be a part of our holidays,” Crandall said.
Foundation President Rick Crandall said the idea first came up three years ago, as an attempt to honor those who never made it home for their next Christmas.
“There (are) 6,213 Coloradans who have given their lives since we became a state, serving their country, that aren’t home for Christmas,” Crandall said.
The foundation asked for volunteers to help light the candles for three nights, between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2.
“And then, of course, the reverse,” Crandall said. “We have to turn them all back off again.”
Volunteers are asked to sign up through this website, to offer at least one hour of their time to light, or turn off, the candles.
Third graders from Indian Ridge Elementary have already volunteered to help place all the luminarias out on the grass on Wednesday. Volunteers were only needed to change the lights.
Crandall said volunteering would come with significant benefits.
“When you come here, and you walk through this field with all of those lights, it will stay with you,” Crandall said.
Crandall said lighting the luminarias helped give volunteers a deeper understanding of how many Coloradans paid the ultimate sacrifice. He said children are often the best helpers.
“It is pretty astonishing how quick the kids get it, and how much it means to them,” Crandall said.
Crandall said the three night event will not only help families mourn their loss; it will also help the community gain a greater respect for soldiers.
“That is what we hear most. ‘I was really touched by what I saw, and it stayed with me through the whole holidays.’ That is a good thing,” Crandall said.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.