300 watch Honor Tree light up for military

       While an estimated 300 people watched, sang, cheered and in many cases held candles, the six branches of the American military were individually honored in Old Colorado City's Old Town Plaza Dec. 10. Soldiers in the Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard sit astride
their horses while the emcee, retired Army Col. Dave
Hughes, stands on the podium in front of event attendees and the soon-to-be-lit Honor Tree.
Westside Pioneer photo
       The highlight of the half-hour ceremony was the lighting of the “honor tree” - a 40-foot-tall spruce that had been hung with red, white and blue Christmas lights - but perhaps the most memorable moment was provided by a 6-year-old Cub Scout.
       Dylan Gordon of Howbert's Pack 6 was there with his troop, and his father, Staff Sgt. Scott Gordon (recently returned from a 90-day tour in Iraq) was providing representation from Peterson Air Force Base. Unbeknownst to Sgt. Gordon, plans called for Dylan to use a microphone to invite his dad to help recite the Pledge of Allegiance and count down the lighting of the tree. But the youngster broke from the script, walking off the stage with the microphone and up to his dad. While Sgt. Gordon knelt down to eye level with his son, Dylan told his father how proud he was of him and that he loved him. “I love you too,” his father replied. Dylan Gordon tells his father, Staff Sgt. Scott Gordon of Peterson Air Force Base, 
recently returned from Iraq, how glad he is that he’s come home.
Westside Pioneer photo
       “I still get teary-eyed thinking about it,” Lynda Dunne, who organized the event for the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group, said afterward. “I thought it was pretty sweet.”
       Nobody minded that Dylan forgot to mention the Pledge of Allegiance. Emcee Dave Hughes, a Westside resident and retired Army colonel who had served in both Korea and Vietnam, stepped in to lead the Pledge, followed by the countdown. After the lighting, Harmony in Motion, the Fort Carson singing group, led hardy locals in Christmas carols for the next half-hour, despite the cold weather.
       Earlier in the presentation, Hughes gave a short history, reminding people of Colorado City's military heritage and its recruitment of soldiers for the unsung Civil War battle of Glorietta Pass. He then invited each branch up (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard), giving their representatives each a glass plaque with the honor tree image etched into it, along with the name of the branch and a message of appreciation from the OCCA.
       This was the second year the merchants have held the lighting ceremony. Sgt. Gordon, a reservist, said afterward he was pleased at the effort and thought it was unique. “I can't think of an event like it,” he said. “I think it was really good. It wasn't a huge turnout, but for us guys, we will definitely share that back, knowing that friends, family and the community are supporting us.”
       OCCA Presi-dent Nancy Stovall said the main impetus of the Honor Tree, like other special events, “is to get people to come to Old Colorado City.” But the event is styled in response to Colorado Springs' being a military town, she added, along with a belief that the contributions of military personnel sometimes are overlooked. “This (the Honor Tree) is something we can hopefully continue,” she said. “It's our annual tribute.”

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