Gunnison rodeo to honor military

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As a young Marine, Glenn George of Gunnison, Colorado, stands before the flag at Iwo Jima while serving during the Korean War. He and others who have served will be honored during the Friday, July 14, Patriot Night at the Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo.

GUNNISON, Colo. – When he was 18 years old, Glenn George weighed his options.

He wanted to attend college, but money was sparse. He’d spent the winter pitching hay, then he and six other young men from Gunnison decided the Marine Corps was their best option. The United States was in the middle of the Korean War, and the military branches needed people to serve.

“I’d never given it much thought, but it seemed to me that I should try it,” said George, who, at age 90, is still active and possesses a strong mind and great recollection. “With the conflict in Korea, I felt like I could do my part.”

Raised in Gunnison, this has always been his home. His service is part of his legacy, and his community has supported him throughout his lifetime. That continues with Cattlemen’s Days and its legendary rodeo, which will honor all veterans and those that are serving with its Patriot Night on Friday, July 14.

“We are free because of those that have served or are serving,” said Kevin Coblentz, a longtime member of the Cattlemen’s Days volunteer committee. “We have to honor those people, whether they’re living or they’ve suffered the ultimate sacrifice. When we were looking at ways to celebrate members of our community, having a Patriot Night was a no-brainer.”

In fact, active military and veterans will be admitted into the rodeo for free on that Friday night. It’s just one of the many ways they will be honored during Cattlemen’s Days, and the committee has some big things they want to do that evening to not only celebrate their service but make it a showcase for all to cherish.

Circa 2009, this image shows the George family, which clerked the junior livestock sale at Cattlemen’s Days for 50 years. Pictured are Gunnison County extension agent Eric McPhail, Keri George, Glenn George, Melva George, Brad George and sponsor clerks Kathy and Jim McCallister. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GEORGE FAMILY)

This marks the 123rd year of the rodeo, which takes place Thursday, July 13-Saturday, July 15, at the Fred Field Western Center in Gunnison. Over his lifetime, George has taken part in many of them in one capacity or another, even serving on the board for 25 years. Whether he was just enjoying the carnival or he was clerking the junior livestock auction, Cattlemen’s Days was always a special time.

“I was pretty much born here in Gunnison,” he said of that date in December 1932. “My mother and I went to Salida (Colorado) to have me born. We rode the old Narrow Gauge Railroad from Gunnison to Salida, then rode it back.

“Twenty-three years later, I helped dismantle that same track.”

After serving in the Marines from 1951-54, he returned home and attended college on the G.I. Bill, which helped ease the financial burden. He built a life and raised a family, and he and his wife, Melva, still live on the edge of town. He knows what Cattlemen’s Days means to this community and why people return to town for it every year.

His years in the service and the sacrifices he and others made to protect the country will be honored by his hometown, his family and his friends. That has a special meaning to them all.

“I think it’s very appropriate,” George said. “Our small community has had a lot of vets, and they’ve supported the military very well over the years. I think this will fit perfectly with that.”


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