In hindsight, Colorado Springs should have invited a couple of dug-in dignitaries to the Red White and Brave Parade, which on Saturday attracted an estimated 45,000 spectators to Tejon Street.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, one heck of a patriot, would have fit in perfectly amid the throng that cheered the 5,000 military men and women who marched in the parade.
And Gov. Bill Ritter, another noble American, could have taken a prominent position among the well-wishers. Every visit by Ritter is a special moment in Colorado Springs.
Of course, Hutchison and Ritter might have had other commitments, or perhaps they simply would have felt uncomfortable here, considering the roles they have played in the past.
Hutchison in May was trying to persuade the Pentagon to consider Fort Bliss, Texas, over such smaller posts as Fort Carson when assigning large-scale training operations in the future. “I want to have those troops right here at Fort Bliss,” Hutchison said.
I saw tears in soldiers’ eyes as the crowds cheered them. I dare say no city is as supportive of our troops as Colorado Springs.
I hope Hutchison was paying attention.
I hope, too, that Ritter heard or saw what went on here Saturday. When he signed the law that blocked the sale of state-owned land in the Pinon Canyon region, he sent a message to the Department of Defense and the Army that Colorado is not a military friendly state. The Army needs more land for training, and land in Pinon Canyon fits the need.
Saturday’s message to the Department of Defense and to all the U.S. military is yes, the Pikes Peak region embraces you.
With 40 percent of the local income generated by the military installations, Colorado Springs should support the brave troops who sacrifice so much. But more than just economics explains the large, enthusiastic crowd. Residents here really care and are patriotic through and through.
Now that I think about it, I didn’t miss Hutchison and Ritter. On Saturday, the real dignitaries were the 5,000 men and women who marched, who serve and who sacrifice.
Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at Lon.Matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.