The rain held off, and the sun shined during a moving Memorial Day ceremony honoring Spc. George Raymond Geer, a fallen soldier from Montezuma County.
Geer’s family, local dignitaries and a crowd of more than 100 residents attended a dedication naming a new 60-acre natural area in Geer’s memory, the Spc. George Raymond Geer Natural Area.
On a sagebrush hill overlooking a lake and newly developed trail system, a plaque was unveiled and the flag raised to honor Geer and all who have served.
As George’s father, Harold Geer, spoke, the sun broke through the clouds, and a flock of geese flew low overhead.
“He loved his community, and the people here helped to make him the man that he was,” Harold Geer said. “It is an honor to dedicate this park to not just him but to all who served.
Spc. Geer was killed Jan. 17, 2005, by a bomb in Iraq while inspecting a suspicious vehicle.
The last time Geer talked to his family, he wanted to hear about the snow in the mountains of Southwest Colorado. He loved to ski, travel, ride horses, hunt elk and race cars and motorcycles.
Keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton spoke of the enduring willingness of young men and women to serve their country and protect its freedoms.
“The Geers’ tradition of serving their country and standing up for liberty goes back to the Revolutionary War,” Tipton said. “By the grace of God, this nation is blessed by men and women willing to step forward and serve their nation.”
Tipton urged the crowd to think of veterans, and military forces standing at their post, during barbecues and family gatherings Monday.
“Be mindful of their service, and of their families who also sacrificed,” he said. “Fifty years from now, when a young man or woman walks by this plaque, it will be a reminder of someone who vigilantly stood their ground and defended our freedom.”
During his comments, Harold Geer expressed pride in the community, and emphasized that his son’s memorial extends beyond the horizon.
“We’re honoring all who stepped up to give their lives because they believed this country meant something,” he said. “Local support of those values made him who he was. This is a great community to live in and to raise a family in.”
The slice of wilderness within the Cortez city limits is home to foxes, deer, raptors and occasional mountain lions, a fitting memorial for Geer, whom his father said had a wild streak in him.
“This is a real honor for everybody,” he said.
The city of Cortez is committed to its parks, said Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek, and is honored to dedicate its newest one to Geer and all veterans and military forces.
“We’ve built the new trails with 166 hours of volunteer labor. A neighbor graciously offered free access to his land adding to the trails,” she said.
A wreath was laid at the memorial by the Blue Star Moms, a Divine Blessing was given, “Taps” was played and the Montezuma County Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 5231 gave a traditional gun salute.
“Specialist Geer made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, and for him and all those with the courage and willingness to die for our ideals, we dedicate this open-space park,” said David Johnson, commander of the VFW Post. “The sacrifices they made shall be written in history and remain alive in our memory for generations to come.”
Spc. George Raymond Geer was born Nov. 22, 1977. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was based at Camp Ramadi. He was killed in action Jan. 17, 2005. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
“A loving son, brother, hero. We shall never forget: Honor one, honor all.”