6,218 candles light up to honor Colorado vets who died serving their country
DENVER (KUSA) -- More than 6,200 names stretch across the Colorado Freedom Memorial in Aurora.
The memorial was built to honor veterans from Colorado who died serving their country.
For the past three years, George Peck and a group of volunteers have added another tribute. Candles -- 6,218 of them in total -- shine from sundown until onlookers leave and Peck packs the lights up.
"It was one of those, 'wouldn't it be nice if we did something around the holidays to commemorate the people who've given up their lives for our country?'" Peck said of how the tradition started.
A 25-year Air Force veteran, Peck remembers coming home from Vietnam and receiving a less-than-warm welcome. Now, he says it warms his heart to see people line up to volunteer for events like this.
"I have a seen a 180-degree turn on that and it warms me that people see and know and recognize the service that our people in the armed forces are providing to this country," he said.
Along with the names on the wall, volunteer Mike Ackman thinks of one he's grateful isn't on it while he places candles.
"I think of my son who's currently serving when I put these out and thank God he came through what he did unharmed," he said.
As the sun set behind the mountains on Thursday, 6,218 lights came to life.
"If you think about each one of these names on the memorial represent a light that was part of our society that went out," Peck said. "We've re-lit those lights for this short occasion, but a way of showing each one of these people and their families that we still care about these people.
Peck and company will be putting the battery-powered candles again Saturday night.