This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

October 26, 2006 - fines support new veterans memorial

In years past, the library has offered several fine amnesty programs. For instance, we have, at various times, encouraged people to drop off cans of food. In exchange, we wipe out old debts, and pass the food along to some worthy charity.

I'd like to introduce a different program: for one week, make a point to pay your fines with real money. Why? Because there's an important civic project underway, and it deserves your financial support.

That project is the Highlands Ranch Veterans Monument. As noted on their website, (http://veteransmonument.highlandsranch.org), "Tuesday, August 8, 2006 marked the first anniversary of the death of Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Falkel, a 2001 ThunderRidge High School graduate who served as a Green Beret. Falkel was the first Highlands Ranch resident to be killed in action."

Many older communities have monuments to fallen soldiers. Highlands Ranch does not. Again as noted on the website, a group of "community volunteers, led by Jeff Alvis, and supported by the Highlands Ranch Park & Recreation Foundation and the Metro District of Highlands Ranch, has launched a fundraising campaign for the Highlands Ranch Veterans Monument, to be built near the Highlands Ranch Library entrance in Civic Green Park."

The Civic Green Park has often been described as "the heart of Highlands Ranch," a truly civic place. The design -- both tasteful and very much in the spirit of the Colorado landscape, was created by Brian Muller. The idea is to place this monument at the north end of the park, not far from the front door of our library.

In addition to the features of the monument -- an arch, five large native rocks featuring the emblems of the five branches of the armed services, a small cascading water feature and pond -- there will also be a dedication wall.

On this wall will be tiles, available for purchase from the website. They come in two sizes; 4 by 8 inches for $200, or 8 by 8 inches for $500 (available in limited quantity). The tiles don't have to be for soldiers who lost their lives; you may simply acknowledge the service of any veteran, or member of the armed forces.

I should also stress that the tiles are not limited to residents of Highlands Ranch, or even of Douglas County. Of course, there will probably be some kind of connection to Douglas County residents.

War, of course, is a terrible thing. This monument isn't about a glorification of conflict. But it is about something we need to remember: there is a dimension to all of our lives that isn't just recreational or economic. It involves our connection to larger moments of shared social history, to issues of state, and even of global significance. It is appropriate to pause to reflect, to consider the real, individual cost of military service, and the purposes to which we ask people to give their time, or their lives.

To that end, the Board of Trustees has voted to dedicate all fine money collected during the week from Sunday, November 5, through Saturday, November 11, Veterans Day, as a donation to this project, and its contribution to our shared community.

The target for the project is $200,000. At present, it has collected a little over $17,000.

So please, consider making a small sacrifice to honor the much larger ones of our service people.

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