DENVER — After 14 years of planning, Gold Star Families are getting a new spot to remember the loved ones they've lost. On Saturday morning, state leaders came together for the dedication of the Colorado Fallen Heroes Memorial.
"This is a memorial dedicated to the heroes that were lost in action that are from Colorado," said Todd Youngblood, the board president for the Colorado Veteran's Project.
The memorial is located at Lincoln Veteran's Park, right across the street from the state capitol.
"A lot of the families you see here today are Gold Star families," said Youngblood. "It is their family members that were lost in combat operations"
The memorial is now a physical reminder of Coloradans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"It's hopefully a small gesture of gratitude to those families that were remembering their loved ones that were lost in service," Youngblood said.
During the ceremony, Gold Star families got to see hear the names and see the faces of their loved ones throughout the park.
Some saw photos, others saw drawings, and then there were those like Tom Wykstra, who got the opportunity to tell the crowd about their family member.
"Jake was a wonderful kid. He was a practical joker and prankster at heart, and he loved to make people laugh. And he loved to laugh. And he had a great big bright smile and bright blue eyes," said Wykstra.
From the age of 14, his son Jake knew he wanted to serve his county. He realized that dream when he turned 21.
"He joined the Army and became an infantry man in 2013, and then in January 2014, he was deployed to Afghanistan," Wykstra said.
Wykstra lost his son, Jake, on October 28, 2014. He and his family were told the following day, a day he'll never forget.
"It's very, very difficult to try and even explain, because when I first saw them on our front step, I knew inside why they were there. But of course, she, you want to deny it, and you don't want to believe it," he said.
Now, Wykstra has a new spot where he can go to remember Jake.
"This is a wonderful tribute in monument to all the fallen heroes and for all the families and veterans who served with the fallen, to come and remember and to share stories about their hero, to remember them and to know that it's a peaceful, solace place. That's a tribute to them," he said.