Coloradans can now honor their war dead by donating approximately $250,000 to pay for the Fallen Heroes Memorial on Capitol grounds.
A wonky bill that even one of its sponsor, Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, said addresses “governmental, bureaucratic red tape” is the launch point of this fundraising campaign.
Senate Bill 122, signed by the governor last week, is a paper-shuffle to formally disband the Colorado Fallen Heroes Memorial Commission and shift its duties to the state Department of Personnel and Administration in a bid to help the registered non-profit Colorado Fallen Heroes Fund raise the money.
“We often say we want to thank the veterans who have given so much to our nation, so today we bring you an opportunity to do exactly that,” Danielson told the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on March 9.
The bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Terri Carver, R-Colorado Springs, cited the five military installations and legions of veterans in El Paso County.
“This is to honor and remember those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said.
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The Colorado Fallen Heroes Memorial Commission has been making plans for a decade to build a monument honoring the state’s war dead on the Capitol grounds, ever since Gov. Bill Ritter’s first year in office.
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill in a ceremony in his office Thursday afternoon, honoring the work of the commission and hopeful of more fully honoring those killed in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq.
The memorial will be in Veteran’s Park on the west side of the Capitol between Lincoln Street and Broadway in downtown Denver.
David Ortiz of the United Veterans Committee of Colorado escaped death as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan and first came to Colorado to rehabilitate from his injuries at Craig Hospital in Englewood.
“I would have been confident in the fact my veteran brothers and sisters would have made sure my sacrifice was honored and never forgotten,” he said.
Rebecca Kim was the chairwoman of the Fallen Heroes Memorial Commission and will now lead the non-profit fund. Her brother, Capt. Russell Rippetoe, an Army Ranger, was killed in Iraq in 2003.
“I wanted to find something to do to remember him and honor the sacrifices he and others made,” she told the House committee. “… And make a statement Colorado honors and remembers its heroes.”