Highest Mountains, Toughest Conditions, Most Extraordinary Soldiers: 10th Mountain Division
Take advantage of this bluebird $30 Thursday at Ski Cooper and perhaps riding in the tracks of 10th Mountain Division soldiers will inspire you to attend tonight’s screening. After Aprés Ski from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., back in Leadville at the Lake County Public Library, a FREE local showing of PBS documentary “The Last Ridge: The Inspiring Story of the 10th Mountain Division” begins at 7 p.m. Round up the troops and get there early; seats will fill up fast with limited standing room.
On Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. this documentary will be presented at the Lake County Public Library in the Amax Room, followed by Q & A with 10th Mountain vets and filmmaker Abbie Kealy. The one-hour documentary recounts the 10th Mountain’s remarkable history, beginning with its earliest days as a legendary World War II alpine fighting force training at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado. During the war, the 10th Mountain gave new meaning to the phrase “uphill battle” as they embarked on a true mission impossible.
The story of 10th’s claim to fame begins with the Germans entrenched in Italy’s heavily fortified mountaintops, effectively blocking the Allied advance towards Germany. After losing 15,000 soldiers trying to capture this critical high ground, Army brass called up the 10th Mountain Division. The rest is history: how the 10th turned the tide for the Allies in Italy, revolutionized winter mountain warfare abroad, transformed winter sports at home, and inspired generations of soldiers.
Narrated by National Public Radio’s Scott Simon, The Last Ridge takes an active history approach to break through to a younger generation. “Many young people today find it difficult to grasp the cataclysmic events of the World War II era,” said filmmaker Abbie Kealy. “There’s nothing in recent history that compares in size and scope of the devastation.” The film weaves together dramatic re-enactments, eyewitness accounts, 3-D animation, Allied and captured German archival footage and newly discovered letters to help viewers understand it in a meaningful way. It also looks at how the current 10th Mountain Division is taking the legacy from here, featuring 10th Mountain soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan, and those recuperating at Walter Reed Army Hospital.
“It’s clear when you talk to young soldiers today, that they are part of something that transcends now. That’s not lost on the soldiers of the 10th Mountain,” said Brigadier General Arthur Bartell, a former Chief of Staff for the 10th Mountain Division (Light.) “If you look at the battles fought in World War II, the 10th did the near impossible,” reflects Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin III, a former Commander of todays’10th Mountain Division (Light.) “Our 10th Mountain troops are still called to do the near impossible. The 10th Mountain mindset of going where others don’t is still important.”
“With a thousand World War II veterans passing away daily, the 10th’s extraordinary story is one that must be told now by the soldiers who know it best,” reflects Kealy. “We hoped to make the program of record about the 10th. It’s turned out to be a story that transcends time.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., film at 7 p.m. The Lake County Public Library is located at 1115 Harrison Avenue. For more information about The Last Ridge, visit www.lastridge.com or contact Abbie Kealy, (443) 570- 9482 AbbieKealy@me.com
More 10th Mountain Celebrations Planned in Leadville
If the showing of the film furthers your inspiration during this annual celebration of 10th Mountain Division, continue at Ski Cooper, on their Food Pantry Friday. February 17 the 10th Mountain Annual Ski-In is scheduled out at Ski Cooper as third graders from Lake County Intermediate school ski down the mountain with 10th Mountain Veterans. While the memorial is celebrated all day, for those interested in seeing the majestic serpentine ski down the mountain, plan to be out at the lodge no later than noon. On the same day, bring in a donation of non-perishables to receive $5 off the price of a lift ticket. Donations go to St. George Episcopal Church‘s Food Bank of the Rockies on February 3 and 17, and to the First Presbyterian food bank on February 10 and 24. The 10th Mountain Division celebration will continue late afternoon with lunch and skiing, wrapping up the day with a Memorial Service at the 10th Monument starting at 3:15 p.m. Of course, the nighttime revelry can be found at the Legendary Silver Dollar Saloon in downtown Leadville, much like the soldiers did many years ago.
If you haven’t yet learned all about this special piece of Leadville history, take advantage of the week’s offerings and gain perspective on a brave and harsh time gone by. And do some skiing yourself in the meantime!