By Marcia Neville | University Communications
DENVER - It is being billed as the biggest Veteran's Day celebration in city history and the University of Colorado Denver is right in the middle of it. Festivities on the Auraria Campus start Saturday morning, Nov. 9, with the Denver Veteran's Day 5K then end with a free fireworks display that will light up the night.
Saturday Salute to Veterans
CU Denver's Office of Veteran Student Services has taken a leadership role organizing and promoting the events which also are supported by VFW Post 1, Metropolitan State University of Denver, the Community College of Denver and Denver Army ROTC. It's a group effort to provide a proper salute to the men and women who've served our country.
"Attendance at our city-wide Veteran's Day events has been very disappointing over the years," said Army Veteran Izzy Abbass, the program director for CU Denver's Boots to Suits, a campus to career transition program for student veterans.
"We veterans see hundreds of thousands turn out for Denver's Parade of Lights and St. Patrick's Day parade. Shouldn't the Denver Veteran's Day parade and other events reflect those same kind of numbers? This is a chance to personally thank the men and women who've worn the uniform and defended our country."
Celebrate at Tivoli Commons
Abbass, CU Denver's student veterans and other staff members will be on hand at the Tivoli Commons throughout the day, first volunteering at the afternoon family festival then, taking part in the evening ceremony and fireworks display. The fun begins at noon and will include free food, children's activities and music by the Nacho Men and Andrews Sisters cover band Reveille 3. Military vehicles will be on display.
The evening tribute begins at 5 p.m. with a Forgotten Heroes awards presentation. In addition to his work with Boots to Suits, Abbass is also a past commander and a trustee for VFW Post 1. It's in that role that he will serve as master of ceremonies for presentations he describes as often emotional when recipients receive their military awards publicly for the first time.
"These medals aren't meant to be received quietly through the mail," Abbass explained. "They are supposed to be presented with public acknowledgment of a man or woman's sacrifice."
The Forgotten Heroes Campaign has presented medals to veterans or their family members from World War I through current conflicts, and Abbass notes that he's even seen hard-core Marines cry when the medal was pinned on. "The pride for a veteran receiving a medal s/he earned in a faraway land years and years ago, surrounded by family, is powerful and amazing,"
Fireworks in November!
Then, following the ceremony, at approximately 6 p.m. a program of sponsored fireworks will delight the crowd. Fireworks is an unexpected sight in the month of November, and Tri-State Fireworks has provided the show for more than a decade. A forecast of warm weather for Saturday has organizers optimistic about the turn out.
Attendance and paying tribute to our military veterans is what the entire Denver Veteran's Day Celebration is all about.
"We've had a couple thousand come out for the fireworks over the years," Abbass said. "Let's think big and make 10,000 our goal this year. Ultimately, I believe Denver can be home to the largest Veteran's Day celebration west of the MIssissippi."
Denver Veteran's Day Celebration
- 8 a.m.- Veteran's Day 5K- Tivoli Commons
- 10 a.m.- Parade- State Capital
- 11:30 a.m.- Remembrance Ceremony- Civic Center Park
- Noon- Family Festival- Tivoli Commons
- 5 p.m.- Salute to Forgotten Heroes- Tivoli Commons
- 6 p.m.- Fireworks Grand Finale- Tivoli Commons
Run, Rejoice, Remember, Celebrate
CU Denver has the fastest growing student veteran population in the state and is home to the state's largest Veteran Student Organization (VSO). In July the CU Denver VSO was named national chapter of the month. The Denver Veterans Day Celebration offers a chance for the CU Denver community to salute them and say thank you for their sacrifice.