Handmade Wind Chimes Honor Veterans, Memorial Day
MONTROSE – Below the chatter and laughter of old stories from long ago, volunteers work to assemble spent brass, dog-tags and ceramic hearts into wind chimes to be hung around town for Memorial Day. Volunteers with the Welcome Home Montrose Warrior Resource Center in downtown have almost completed 100 new wind chimes to honor the sacrifice of service-men and women and plan to assemble 100 more before Veterans Day.
WRC’s Let Freedom Ring project is now in its second year, designed to generate awareness, recognition and gratitude for military veterans on Memorial Day, thanks to the wind chimes’ soft, metallic lullabies.
Last year, volunteers used the spent munitions casings fired during 21-gun salute volleys at local veterans’ funerals, along with dog tags and red, white and blue-painted ceramic hearts to comprise the chimes.
Just over two feet long, the wind chimes symbolize the sacrifice of America’s veterans and the preservation of freedom they continue to provide.
Since the project began a year ago, the WRC has received brass donations from across the country, mostly from Alabama and Ohio.
Earlier this year, Kathie Lingo, whose husband Jerry served in the Navy during Vietnam, began pouring and fixing the ceramic hearts in small molds as other volunteers painted them for the chimes.
Lingo has been assembling the chimes, along with Patrick and Lois Malone and Helena Hoover, in a small room of the WRC, while staff continue to tend to the everyday needs of the 560 veterans currently registered with the WRC (of that number, about 45 are female.)
According to Mysti Miller of the WRC, the chimes should be completed by sometime next week, and ready for distribution on Memorial Day, May 26.
Miller said volunteers will be out just after dawn hanging the chimes in trees throughout downtown, city parks, walking paths and beyond.
The chimes are free for people to take and hang in recognition of someone who served or is currently serving in the armed forces.
“We’d like for them to take it or give to a veteran, or hang it somewhere else in honor of a veteran,” Miller said.
Due to high demand, the chimes are currently not available to the public from the WRC, but Miller said there are plans to continually make and sell them.
It is estimated that 15 local veterans pass away each year, according to the Montrose Disabled American Veterans Chapter 17. Brass used in those funerals are also used in the Let Freedom Ring chimes.
The WRC was recently recognized by the Denver Post for its continued work in making Montrose a “no barriers” community for veterans of all ages. The Post reported that about 60 communities across the country, including Durango, have adopted the model Welcome Home Montrose created; WRC founder Melanie Kline has also created a phase-by-phase plan for other communities to implement. Her latest campaign is to have local medical offices in Montrose add military status information on all intake forms.
“Doctors need to know if patients are veterans. That’s really important,” Kline told the Post.
For more information contact the WRC at 970/765-2210, at 11 South Park Ave. in Montrose or www.welcomehomemontrose.org.