Here’s what I thought was the best story about this…thank you, Kevin Torres (KUSA), here’s a link and below is an excerpt.
The Mountains of the Rio Grande National Forest conceal mystery. The sort of mystery that fills a field as it fills a void.
Hidden away in the 1.8-million-acre forest is a treasure few people are aware of. It was created nearly 20 years ago by a man who devoted the remaining years of his life to honoring soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War.
“He was really enchanted with it. It was his only goal in life for the last 30 years,” Phyllis Beckley Roy said.
Roy is referring to her brother, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Allen Beckley. Beckley fought in Vietnam from 1962 through 1973. After the war, Roy said her brother was deeply impacted by Vietnam and wanted to do something for his fellow soldiers – as well as the other countries affected by the war.
“He just couldn’t believe that people could not know what was going on, and he decided he would take any penny he could scrape together to build a memorial to honor the people who were not honored,” Roy said.
Beckley’s idea to build a stone memorial on national forest land was initially denied. But when the forest supervisor for the Rio Grande National Forest, Jim Webb (now retired), discovered Beckley was dying of cancer, he changed his mind.
Beckley’s last mission in life was to establish a lasting tribute in memory of the soldiers of Vietnam and Laos. His dream eventually became reality. By the mid-90s, SOLDIERSTONE had been built.
“He designed it, and he bought everything that went into it,” Roy said.
Beckley didn’t have many connections to Colorado. He chose the Rio Grande National Forest because of its proximity to the Continental Divide – and because it was a large forest that could easily hide his memorial.
According to Roy, Beckley didn’t want many people to know about it. He never intended for large crowds to visit it and to take pictures of it.
“The idea was he wanted it to be secluded. He didn’t want people to vandalize it,” Roy said.
Here’ an excellent news video about the site and the history.