By Karen Morfitt
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – It is that time of year again; Christmas lights and other holiday decorations are going up. In Aurora, a military veteran is combining Christmas with a special tribute to his fellow service members.
“Everyone tells me thank you for my service, I’m giving back,” 82-year-old Ron Bates said.
The idea to use his holiday display as a message board started more than a year ago.
“I got to thinking I’m close to Buckley Air Force Base. The helicopters fly by, the jets fly over, why not put up a sign that says ‘Thank you?’” he asked. “It just kind of grew from there.”
He’s been perfecting his idea every day since.
“We garage-saled all summer buying and shopping for Christmas. It’s surprising how much Christmas you can find in the summer,” Bates laughed.
A Marine veteran himself, he wanted his home on Christmas to go beyond the usual.
A display he designed and built himself spotlights the sacrifice men and women who serve have been making for decades.
“I had to cut the pieces of wood out. I had to paint them, create the stencils, stencil the names and dates then I had to put them up and assemble them.”
When night falls and the lights go on at his home, you will find a Purple Heart, military headstones, even a handmade fallen soldier statue.
“I know it is different. It is not the typical Christmas Santa Clauses and snowmen and reindeer. That is just the way I feel,” he said.
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Of course, you will also see that sign, the one that started it all.
“Just plain thank you there’s nothing, it says it all,” he said.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.