By Dillon Thomas
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – In honor of Coloradans who paid the ultimate sacrifice, dozens of volunteers came together to participate in the fourth annual “Light Their Way Home” event at the Colorado Freedom Memorial. The event allows volunteers to light one electronic candle for every Coloradan killed in action, for three nights of the year.
“It’s a chance to pay back to those that didn’t get to come home,” said Zachary Eaton, a volunteer.
The candles were shaped in to stripes, and stars, illustrating an American flag from above.
“These members of the military paid the ultimate sacrifice, so this is just a very small token of my appreciation,” Eaton said.
This year, 6,218 candles were lit. That is one more than 2017 due to the addition in honor of Gabriel Conde, who was killed in Afghanistan.
“Anytime we have to add a name, we don’t feel good about it,” said Rick Crandall, president of the Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation.
“Looking at (more than) 6,000 lights, from a distance, is quite the impact,” Eaton said. “To fathom that amount of people is another thing in itself.”
Crandall said the flickering electronic lights are a symbol of life, all at a location meant of mourning and reflection.
“Light represents life. And, maybe for a couple of hours, for a couple of night, we could bring life to the memories of those that we honor,” Crandall said. “It teaches me a little bit about just how deep that loss is.”
Crandall said the number of candles could grow by the hundreds, in the coming years, as records are updated. Crandall said dated records are still being updated, to reflect who was a native of Colorado during their service.
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.