High above the small Rocky Mountain town of Saguache is a mysterious memorial devoted to the forgotten soldiers and civilians from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, France, Africa, and other nations who fought with America during the war in Vietnam.
The Soldierstone memorial is made of giant slabs of granite about the size of tombstones, inscribed with quotes in various languages and the words valor, courage, and sacrifice etched in large letters. Despite being located in a national forest on public land, the remote memorial has been kept almost secret for most of its existence.
Tucked away in a small stand of trees, the memorial stands at 11,500 feet just off the Colorado Trail on the Sargents Mesa peak. At an elevation of around 10,000 feet, it is surrounded by stunning views of nearby mountain ranges. Because of the remoteness of the location—it’s accessed via small dirt roads and a hike through difficult terrain—it offers a peaceful and serene experience, and doesn’t receive many visitors.
This is as planned. The memorial was created by retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and Vietnam veteran Stuart Allen Beckley, working with a stonecutter. He devoted the final years of his life to the project, carefully scouting out the perfect spot in the Rio Grande National Forest near the Colorado Trail. His dream was to place it in the high Rockies, accessible to veterans and those affected by the war, but secret enough to shield it from vandals and protect the surrounding environment.
Beckley finally received permission from the U.S. Forest Service, and the memorial was completed in 1995. Beckley passed away later that year, and though he was not able to attend the unveiling ceremony, he lived to see his dream of honoring those who lost their lives in Southeast Asia realized.