Memorial Day has lost some of its original purpose over the years. It’s no one’s fault, really, but for many people, it’s become just a time to enjoy a day off, mark the start of the summer season, and go shopping at various sales.
But most of us are still at least vaguely aware that it began as Decoration Day in the years after the Civil War. It was an event designed to remember the soldiers who died fighting that terrible war. Later, as the United States suffered through more conflicts, the day’s purpose was broadened to honor all soldiers sacrificed in battle for this country, and the name gradually changed.
With that in mind, it was good to see the ceremonies that did take place this year commemorating the fallen. In particular, it was nice to see that the Colorado Rockies baseball team on Memorial Day honored the family of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay, the Cortez man who died in March in Afghanistan. The crowd at Coors Field in Denver gave the Lindsay family a heartfelt ovation.
Also in May, there was a memorial of an entirely different sort – but also very worthwhile. A crowd traveled to Disappointment Valley on May 19 to share in a ceremony recognizing the dedication of Temple Butte, a mesa overlooking a valley that is home to a magnificent herd of wild horses. It was renamed late in 2018 in honor of Pati Temple, the McElmo Canyon resident who died about six years ago after a long battle with cancer. She was an incredible person – smart, funny, full of life, and enormously compassionate toward animals. She and her husband, David Temple, who spoke at the ceremony, were dedicated to helping preserve the wild mustangs that live in the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area in Disappointment. The renaming of the butte was a very worthwhile effort that involved a lot of work by a number of people, including Ann Bond and the county commissioners of San Miguel County.
While those remembrances recognized a couple of locals whom we have lost, there were also several people connected with the community and this newspaper who had some serious health problems this spring, although they are well on the path to recovery. Ric Plese, owner of Cliffrose Garden Center and Nursery (one of our most faithful, longestterm advertisers), had a life-threatening health scare. Fortunately he is now doing well, which is a relief to the entire community. Cliffrose is just a lovely place in general and Ric is a pillar in so much that goes on here. Here’s to a long life, Ric!
John Christian Hopkins, who frequently writes columns for us and who made an appearance at the Cortez Public Library a while ago as part of a talk by humor writers, has suffered a few serious health setbacks, including a small stroke in April. Hopkins, who lives in Arizona with his wife, Sara, is a really funny guy and a great person. He is on the mend and we send him our best wishes.
And of course the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, Gail Binkly (yes, that’s me, I’m writing this), had a weird fall early in May that caused a bad head injury. I was flown to Grand Junction for initial care and am now recovering. I want to thank some very kind friends and family who helped me out with food, medicine, yard work, and spiritual support – in no particular order, Jennifer, Kathy, Debie, Ned, Galen, Joe and Odie, Sonja, M.B., Carolyn, Nancy, Sarah, Sam, Ed, Johnny and Jim. Special thanks to M.B. for all you did (which was a lot), to Sonja for the really thoughtful help, to Debie for all the food and wonderful support, to Jennifer for food and medicine and books, to Carolyn for medicine and advice, and to Jim for (among other things) driving to pick David and me up in Grand Junction – we’d probably still be stuck there otherwise. I hope to do something good for all of you someday when I’m back to normal.
Thanks to my husband for flying with me to Grand Junction and sleeping in my hospital room, and for all the care you gave me back at home. Thanks to my sister for keeping me sane by telephone and for sending that care package. And thanks to everyone who sent cards and emails and messages, or who just saw me out and about and gave me their good wishes. It’s all greatly appreciated.
As you get older, you realize how short life is, and you come to appreciate it more. If you get a little extra time, you’re grateful. Here’s hoping all of us have a safe and happy summer.