TRINIDAD, Colo. (KRDO) -- This Las Animas County town near the Colorado/New Mexico state line may be small, but is big when it comes to honoring its military veterans.
After being canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Veterans Day luncheon resumed Thursday at the Sebastiani Gym in downtown Trinidad.
An estimated 350 people attended the event, which featured a band, color guard and speaker from Fort Carson; honored 40 area veterans who have died since the last luncheon in 2019; and presented memorial plaques to the wives of two organizers who passed away during that time.
Also honored was a Trinidad woman who received a painting from a New Mexico artist; the painting remembers her father, a World War II veteran who served in Europe and was a prisoner of war.
"I believe it represents the Battle of the Bulge," said daughter Diane Buscarello. "About two or three days ago, I found out that my husband helped plan to present it."
Two World War II veterans were among the guests of honor Thursday, noteworthy in that next month marks the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the start of that war.
"I remember I was between 17 and 18 years old, a little snotty-nosed kid when I went into the Marines," said Chandler Caldwell, 97 (at right in the above photo), who also served in Vietnam. "People who did not go into service, they can't comprehend what happens in the military -- especially in combat. I think Vietnam was the worst."
The luncheon has been organized since 1999 by a volunteer committee led by Linda Barron, a native Korean who helped the American military as a teenager during the Korean War.
She later moved to California, married an American soldier who died from exposure to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange, and eventually settled in Trinidad.
"This is a little something that I can give back -- to our Vietnam veterans and to overall veterans," Barron said.