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Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado

News From The Past


May 31, 2005

 

 

Holiday's meaning is not lost


By Vanessa Miller and Kate Larsen, Camera Staff Writers
May 31, 2005

With thousands already running the 27th Annual Bolder Boulder and thousands more waiting for their go-ahead Monday morning, an eruption of applause spread through participants and spectators.

The ovation came in the midst of the race's seemingly chaotic start just after 8 a.m. when a group with "Colorado Marines" printed on the back of their black T-shirts marched to the starting line behind an American flag.

The meaning behind Monday's holiday was not lost in the masses of race participants, rows of entertainment booths and herds of cheering fans. After more than 42,000 Bolder Boulder participants crossed the finish line on the floor of the University of Colorado's Folsom Field, runners joined spectators in the stands for one of the nation's largest Memorial Day tributes.

Robert D. Maxwell, a retired technician with the United States Army who received a Medal of Honor for his service, talked about his stint in the military and the significance of his award.

"The Medal of Honor represents everything that is good in the military," he said. "One president said that he would rather have that medal than be president."

Coinciding with the race and the tribute, members of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center hosted a protest against the war in Iraq by attempting to raise a banner of opposition at the stadium. Local enforcement officers confiscated banners that read, "End the Occupation of Iraq Now," and "Protect Free Speech." Three female protesters were charged with illegal conduct on public property and were summoned to appear in court Aug. 3, center officials said.

"The Bolder Boulder is open to the public, it is on public property, and, as a public institution, the university should allow banners which express divergent views on the war on Iraq," said Carolyn Bninski, in a press release from the center. Bninski was one of the protesters charged Monday.

Later in the afternoon, war protests continued with nearly 100 people gathering outside the Boulder County Courthouse on the Pearl Street Mall. Several war veterans spoke about their experiences in Vietnam and why they believe the United States should bring home its troops from the Middle East.

Many people took cover under trees as rain started to fall, but the wet weather couldn't quell their message.

"Today, Memorial Day is a three-day holiday, and most folks don't remember the men and women who have died in wars," said Terry Leichner, a Denver resident with Vietnam Vets Against the War.

He asked the crowd to remember the 1,656 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and 100,000 Iraqi civilians who've died since March 2003. Other speakers criticized the U.S. government's spending on the war, and one even compared President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler.

Not everyone appreciated the group's message.

"I don't believe our troops would like to come home and see rallies like this," said Don Kish, a Vietnam veteran who recently returned to the United States from Canada. "It hurts me."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Vanessa Miller at (303) 473-1329 or millerv@dailycamera.com

2005, by The Boulder Daily Camera
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


May 27, 2005

Hero returns 'home' for MOH ceremony


Maxwell most-honored veteran in state history

By Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer
May 27, 2005

Robert Maxwell was born in Boise, Idaho, grew up in Kansas and has spent most of his life living in Bend, Oregon.

Yet Colorado ...

"It kind of feels like it's my home state," Maxwell said.

On Memorial Day, Technician Fifth Grade Robert D. Maxwell who was drafted into the U.S. Army from Larimer County while living in Fort Collins with his family and working as a timber cutter is returning home again.

And it's about time.

Maxwell who was awarded two Silver Stars and the Medal of Honor for his heroic service during World War II near Besancon, France, in 1944 is the most highly decorated Colorado veteran in the state's proud history of military service.

But since he received the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the state capitol in Denver on May 12, 1945, Maxwell has only been invited back to the state for ceremonies in Pueblo, the patriotic hometown of an amazing four Medal of Honor recipients.

During Monday's Bolder Boulder festivities, Maxwell will be honored in front of about 50,000 people at Folsom Field.

"This is so long overdue," said Doug Sterner, who received two Bronze Star Medals and an Army Commendation Medal for Valor while serving in Vietnam and runs a Web site homeofheroes.com that pays tribute to veterans. "People can name all the Denver Broncos, but how many Medal of Honor recipients can you name? Honoring them, I think it's a very important thing."

A total of 3,441 Americans have been awarded the Medal of Honor, including only 843 since the beginning of WWII. There are 124 of these men still living, including just 44 from WWII.

"If we only had 124 American bald eagles left, imagine what we would do to protect them," Sterner said.

Maxwell, like so many veterans from the greatest generation, doesn't like to talk about his sacrifices. He's just as proud of the work he did after the war as an auto mechanic and later a vocational teacher.

On Sept. 7, 1944, Maxwell was just doing his duty when he hurled himself on a grenade, using his blanket and unprotected body to absorb the explosion, to save the lives of other soldiers and make sure they completed a mission in France.

Memorial Day is every day for Maxwell.

"A time of remembrance, particularly for the soldiers who were killed in combat," Maxwell said during a telephone interview with the Camera that took place on the 60th anniversary of his Medal of Honor ceremony. "We're obligated to remember those who paid the price for our freedom. We must continue to remember."

Ironically, Maxwell had never heard of the Bolder Boulder until being contacted about coming out for the Memorial Day ceremony that has become an important part of the annual 10K race. Now the masses who participate in the event finally get to meet one of the state's greatest heroes.

"I was surprised," Maxwell said. "Not because they invited me ... but the scope of the thing."

Those who know Maxwell aren't worried about him taking the field and speaking to such a large audience. During the dedication for the Dole Institute of Politics two years ago in Kansas, former Sen. Bob Dole went over to Maxwell with the cameras rolling, pointed to the Medal of Honor he was wearing and said, "Now there's a hero."

"Robert is one of the most humble men I know," Sterner said. "At the same time, there is no thrill like coming home and being recognized as a hometown hero."

 

2005, by The Boulder Daily Camera
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

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