Two new veterans’ monuments were added locally in 2019.
The Chaffee County Veterans Memorial Park at the Poncha Springs Welcome Center was dedicated July 4, and a monument to veterans connected with the Cotopaxi School will be dedicated at 11 a.m. on Veterans Day.
The Cotopaxi Veterans’ Rock on the campus of the Cotopaxi School was carved in bas-relief by artist Wade Collins. The stone was donated by Mike and Nathan Tezak from their Texas Creek pit in McCoy Gulch. The rock was escorted from the quarry in Texas Creek to the school by the American Legion Riders motorcycle group.
The Veterans’ Rock features an American flag and eagle with the words “Honoring veterans, past, present and future. Thank you for your service.”
The idea for the monument came from Debra Krizmanich, a former Cotopaxi teacher. She was on a trip through Iowa and was inspired by the work of Ray “Bubba” Sorenson II, whose original painting, “Freedom Rock” in Meno, Iowa, has turned into a statewide project spanning many communities.
She noticed there was nothing between Cañon City and Salida honoring veterans, and the Veterans’ Rock idea was born with the help of Nicole Richards, Jo Hartsell and Cotopaxi staff and students.
A new flagpole was installed next to the rock, and flags that have flown over the state capitol will be raised in the ceremony at 11 a.m. on Veterans Day by the American Legion Color Guard of Ray Lines Post No. 64.
Guest speaker is a 1995 Cotopaxi graduate, retired USAF Chief Master Sgt. Eric S. Hodsoll. Cotopaxi School staff and students will also participate in the dedication. Small American flags will be distributed to the students by VFW Auxiliary Post No. 4061.
The Veterans’ Rock Committee is asking veterans who graduated from or worked at Cotopaxi High School to send their information to be included in a notebook and to be honored with a flag on the class photos display in the school hallways.
Pictures of Cotopaxi graduates dating back to the 1930s are on display in the hallways, and graduates who served in the military have a flag pin next to their name.
Information as well as checks for the Veterans’ Rock fund, made payable to Cotopaxi School with a notation of Veterans’ Rock on the memo line, can be mailed to Cotopaxi School, P.O. Box 385, Cotopaxi, CO 81233.
“This project was developed with love and respect for our veterans but could not have been possible without the help and financial support given so freely by many individuals, local groups and service organizations,” the committee stated. The committee includes Krizmanich, Richards and Hartsell.
The memorial at the Chaffee County Veterans Memorial Park in Poncha Springs, dedicated on July 4, 2019, includes monuments to Korean War and Vietnam War veterans. The monuments are backed by the American and Colorado flags along with flags representing the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and MIA/POW. The original monument in the park, dedicated to all Chaffee County veterans, was dedicated in 2003.