Friday, May 30, 2014

Colorado Springs Memorial Day Wreath-Laying

From the Lance P. Sijan Chapter:

The Lance P. Sijan Chapter of AFA traditionally lays a wreath in honor of the Air Force fallen heroes in the Colorado Springs Memorial Day Ceremony. Like many cities, participation in the Memorial Ceremony is dominated by family members and veterans from every engagement from WWII to the current conflicts. In keeping with this year’s effort to involve the youth of the community, the Sijan Chapter sent recent high school graduates Kyle Shiller and Avery Austin as their representatives to lay the wreath. Both of the young men were anxious to help out when they learned of the opportunity, and feedback from the event organizers and the ovation from the crowd of about 150 made it very clear they all strongly approved.

Shiller and Austin preparing to lay the wreath.

Both Shiller and Austin just graduated from Rampart High School in Colorado Springs the week before the Memorial Day Ceremony. Both come from military families, with Kyle Shiller headed off to Air Force ROTC at Purdue University in the fall, and Avery Austin headed to the US Military Academy at West Point. The local newspaper, the Colorado Springs Gazette, interviewed the young men immediately afterwards, citing “what Austin and Shiller lacked in years, they made up for in respect for those who came before them.”

“I feel very honored to just be in a room with so many people that have made so many sacrifices for their nation," said Austin, whose parents were Army officers.

Shiller at the Air Force Memorial
in Colorado Springs's Memorial Park.
Shiller added that his father, a retired Air Force colonel, and President of the Sijan Chapter, had always impressed upon him a deep respect for the men and women of the military and the sacrifices made.

Carmen Pesek, the event organizer for the Pikes Peak Veteran’s Council, said afterwards, “Everyone who was there yesterday left with joy in their hearts for our younger generation and their promise of a better future for all of us.”

For Shiller, it is also a natural follow-on to the Eagle Scout Project he completed in the fall of 2013, renovating the Air Force Memorial in the City’s Memorial Park. The Memorial had fallen into disrepair over the years and Kyle, working in conjunction with AFA Sijan Chapter and a great group of volunteers from his troop, made the rust and concrete repairs, added fresh paint, fixed the lights, and cleaned up the surrounding landscaping. The finished product caught the attention of Air Force Space Command who posted it on their Facebook and Twitter feeds to thousands of followers, with a strong positive response.

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