The Veteran’s Bridge is officially open for public viewing.
The announcement came at the end of what will be remembered as one of the more extravagant Veteran’s Day ceremonies Pueblo has seen in years.
Hundreds braved frigid temperatures, carried by a cutting wind, to be part of the annual ceremony. Many felt it was worth it.
The ceremony was held in the middle of the new Veteran’s Bridge, stretching over the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk, while the majority in attendance watched from a distance.
Construction of the bridge was started a year ago, on Veteran’s Day 2009, with a ground breaking and a promise to have the project complete in time for this year’s celebration.
Today, the $1.5 million bridge is complete. On its ends are two pyramids with granite slabs. Engraved into those slabs are names of veteran’s. There are more than 5,800 of them as of November 10, 2010.
It’s the first memorial of its kind, honoring all the branches of military service as well as the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. Also for the first time, families can be found listed together as well.
For Toni Cortese, the bridge is a beautiful thing. "That is a great honor to blend them all together," says Cortese.
Cortese spent time making rubbings of the names of family members on the memorial for her father, an Army veteran who served after World War II. He was unable to be at the ceremony. "It's incredibly special. My father is in the hospital today," says Cortese.
The Cortese family is just one of hundreds of families listed on the memorial. The Wait's signed 17 family members up for it as well. "The most special thing is that it recognizes all veterans, and it lets people of the world know that we are proud we served, and we're proud Americans," explains Steven Wait, an Air Force veteran.
Among those in attendance to see this historic event, was Pueblo’s own Medal of Honor recipient Drew Dix and fellow Medal of Honor recipient Peter Lemon. Governor Ritter and Congressman Salazar both played a role in the ceremony as well.
The Veteran’s Bridge is open to the public 24 hours a day, and has special lighting installed for night viewing of the engraved names.