July 4th at Colorado National Monument
The Mesa County Technical Rescue Team will scale Independence Monument to raise the American flag for Fourth of July. Credit: NPS
Every July 4th, a special kind of celebration takes place at Colorado National Monument, just outside Grand Junction.
Colorado National Monument is without doubt one of Colorado’s most incredible parks. Surely a future national park, it is also the site of one of the most impressive flag raising ceremonies in the entire country.
While people all over the U.S. are firing up grills and washing down hamburgers with beers emblazoned with patriotic imagery, the Mesa County Technical Rescue Team will be atop Independence Monument, the 450-foot monolith of sandstone in Colorado National Monument raising Old Glory.
Remembering John Otto
Year after year, the highly-trained nonprofit group reenacts the journey that John Otto, the man responsible for the existence of the National Monument, made in 1911. He spent several weeks pounding iron pipes and carving footsteps into rock to make it possible for anyone to get to the top. As much a publicity stunt as it was a patriotic act, Otto started a tradition of raising the flag every Fourth of July, and today that tradition is continued by the Mesa County Technical Rescue Team.
On May 24, 1911, five years after he first laid eyes on the red rock canyons and resolved to have them recognized as a national treasure, President Taft signed a proclamation that established Colorado National Monument.