Saturday's picnic honors servicemen and women

Last year, a Kremmling woman drove from her own hometown to celebrate Hometown Heroes Day in Craig.

Her son was in Iraq, but Kremmling wasn't doing anything to recognize the country's troops. She drove over Rabbit Ears Pass and across the Yampa Valley so she could show her support for the nation's troops.

Groups throughout the community will come together on Saturday to once again honor the men and women of America's military. The entire community is invited to Craig City Park on Saturday to celebrate Hometown Heroes Day. Last year, lunch was served to about 450 people. Even though the picnic coincides with the Taylor Rippy White golf tournament, a mass casualty drill at Craig Power Station, and follows the Where the Hell is Mayell bike ride, 450 people are once again expected at this year's celebration.

The event is organized by the Craig Daily Press, but it's the help of more than half a dozen community groups that makes the event possible, said Samantha Johnston, Daily Press publisher.

Craig City Council donates the park for the picnic, City Market provides the hamburgers at a discount price, and the Cedar Mountain Lions Club cooks the burgers.

VFW members set up for the picnic, and the VFW Ladies Auxiliary prepares side dishes of coleslaw, beans, and potato and macaroni salad. The Elks Club donated money to help fund the picnic. At 11:30 a.m., a surprise guest speaker will deliver an opening address. The VFW color guard will post the nation's colors, and Moffat County High School senior Jori Hollenbeck will sing the national anthem and other patriotic songs.

Fifteen local men and women were stationed in Iraq last year as the war started. The Daily Press was regularly recognized for writing stories about these servicemen and women, and the experience was inspiring enough that newspaper personnel felt compelled to host an event to recognize the people they were writing about.

"We had so many families who opened up their homes. We felt this connection to (the servicemen and women) through the amount of press we gave them," Johnston said.

Saturday is also Armed Forces Day. Last year, the Moffat County Board of Commissioners proclaimed Armed Services Day as Hometown Heroes Day.

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