Sad! Rain in February, berms everywhere, and the passing of General Hal Moore

It would be easy to do a whole piece on Donald’s Trump’s “sad” tweets, so maybe some other time. Someone needs to remind Donald for example, that it is not “sad” or “disgraceful” when federal judges do their jobs and address issues filed in court. It is part of the “Separation of Powers” philosophy where in this country, three separate branches of government were formed to keep an eye on one another. They are supposed to prevent abuse of power and provide for institutional checks and balances on each other. It’s worked pretty well for a few hundred years. Anyway, that’s for another time…

Plus, there are a few sad things this week without thinking of Donald…

—It rained in Crested Butte in February. That is weird and frankly sad. That Trump guy sure works fast. If regular winter rain is the new normal, I don’t like that normal. I always figured being a relatively high ski area—located 1,000 feet above Aspen—would be one of our long-term advantages. I guess 1,000 feet isn’t enough. Sad. And it is not any good at all for a community that relies on skiing for business (and fun) in the dark months of winter.

World-famous weather watcher and Gothic resident billy barr has noted it has never rained up there in February and only twice in March since 1976. Ouch.

—Does anyone not get sad when they go outside and find a fresh berm of snow and/or the world’s heaviest slush in front of their driveway or parked car?

—One of the best men to ever frequent this valley passed to the to the other side last weekend. Three-star army Lieutenant General Hal Moore died in his sleep in Alabama on February 10. He would have turned 95 on Monday.

Hal commanded a presence like few others in this community. He and his wife, Julia, would zip around the valleys in a yellow Scout II and were a longtime part of the north end of the valley. A movie starring Mel Gibson was made from the book that Moore and Joseph Galloway had written about the Battle of Ia Drang in Viet Nam, We Were Soldiers Once…and Young.

Jim Deli tells the story of Julia being in the airport after she and Hal had had dinner with Mel Gibson as part of the movie. It was shortly after Gibson was on the cover of People magazine and at the height of his fame.

“How was it having dinner with the sexiest man in the world?” Deli asked Julia.

“I’ve been married to the sexiest man in the world for 54 years,” she responded, and Deli said she said that as sincerely and honestly as anyone could.

Another personal Hal Moore story: I wrote a piece in the paper about my son Sam going through a medical issue when he was probably one or two years old. Sam is now 20. Shortly after that piece was published, Hal Moore reached out to me with some warm and wise advice. I treasured that thoughtful gesture and just the fact he took the time to personally acknowledge the situation. Frankly, I’m still blown away. But that was Hal Moore: Thoughtful, aware, an integral part of this place, and a leader who people truly admired in our little valley. And he was apparently the sexiest man in the world as well.

The website managed by his family noted that he passed away on Julia’s birthday and it was becoming obvious that Hal was declining rapidly. The family gathered and placed his cavalry Stetson on a table near his birthday cake on February 9. The website describes the scene and a video accompanies the words. “By the time we held an early birthday party on February 9, Dad could no longer speak and was visibly tired. Upon seeing his cavalry Stetson, his iron will forced a final communication to his beloved West Point, his precious soldiers and the U.S. Army. This video shows his final hand salute. God bless our Dad. Keep and protect him.”

Amen. We who knew you here salute you as well. Lt. General Hal Moore was a really good man and leaves a little hole in old Crested Butte with his passing.

Losing a man like that in our world is what is really sad.

—I can’t end on a sad note so let me say one thing that made me and a lot of others really happy this week was a naked skier going all Shane McConkey and poaching the finals of the Extreme comp Sunday. That was simply great.

—Mark Reaman

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