War memorial fountain dedicated

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Jim Stanko, commander of American Legion Post No. 44 and district commander of American Legion District No. 14, reads a dedication to a historic World War I memorial fountain at the Tread of Pioneers Museum on Sunday as other local veterans serve as the color guard.

— One of Steamboat Springs resident Buck Buckland's most vivid memories while working for the U.S. Department of Defense was seeing family members talk to each other on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall, while they couldn't see each other.

"I could not believe what it would be like to be imprisoned in your own country," Buckland said. "It gave you the knowledge of what freedom is all about."

Local veterans hope a historic World War I memorial fountain at the Tread of Pioneers Museum will serve as a similar reminder for those who don't have personal memories such as those of Buckland and other veterans.

The fountain was dedicated Sunday, Veterans Day, on the museum's front lawn on Eighth and Oak streets.

In a dedication address, Jim Stanko, commander of American Legion Post No. 44 and district commander of American Legion District No. 14, said the fountain will be "a perpetual monument" to all "who answered a call to arms." Other local veterans joined Stanko in the ceremony, serving as the color guard.

"The thing is, this is a pretty big deal," said Mike Condie, Routt County's veterans' affairs officer and a retired Marine. "It's an effort to bring people together. It's an effort to remind people of yesterday."

The fountain is a restored version of one of four illuminated fountains dedicated by the local American Legion on Nov. 11, 1922, to those who lost their lives in World War I. They were placed in the middle of four intersections on Lincoln Avenue. The fountains were removed in the late 1930s, when the road became U.S. Highway 40 and was paved.

Candice Lombardo, the museum's executive director, said the fountains were dispersed and used for a variety of purposes. For example, the base of the fountain dedicated Sunday was found in Spring Creek, being used an erosion barrier. After acquiring a fountain top as well, the museum was able to restore an entire fountain with local grant and business support.

Lombardo thanked Windemere Landscape & Garden Center and Precision Excavating, in particular, for their efforts to restore and display the fountain as a permanent fixture on the museum's front lawn, free of charge.

"It was thousands of dollars in time and effort," Lombardo said.

The fountain has been in place since summer, but Lombardo said they wanted to wait until Sunday, the 85th anniversary of its original dedication, to formally rededicate it. Many of the local veterans gathered shared memories of their time in service. Buckland described experiences on the night the Berlin Wall finally came down, and Stanko, a Vietnam-era veteran, told of how he was drafted at age 26 when he had a wife and child.

"Unfortunately, it's the only lottery I've ever won," Stanko said.

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