82-Year-Old Veteran Uses Grand Christmas Display To Say ‘Thank You’

Aurora, CO (KCNC) — It is that time of year again; Christmas lights and other holiday decorations are going up. In Aurora, a military veteran is combining Christmas with a special tribute to his fellow service members.

“Everyone tells me thank you for my service, I’m giving back,” 82-year-old Ron Bates said.

The idea to use his holiday display as a message board started more than a year ago.

“I got to thinking I’m close to Buckley Air Force Base. The helicopters fly by, the jets fly over, why not put up a sign that says ‘Thank you?’” he asked. “It just kind of grew from there.”

He’s been perfecting his idea every day since.

“We garage-saled all summer buying and shopping for Christmas. It’s surprising how much Christmas you can find in the summer,” Bates laughed.

A Marine veteran himself, he wanted his home on Christmas to go beyond the usual.

A display he designed and built himself spotlights the sacrifice men and women who serve have been making for decades.

“I had to cut the pieces of wood out. I had to paint them, create the stencils, stencil the names and dates then I had to put them up and assemble them.”

When night falls and the lights go on at his home, you will find a Purple Heart, military headstones, even a handmade fallen soldier statue.

“I know it is different. It is not the typical Christmas Santa Clauses and snowmen and reindeer. That is just the way I feel,” he said.

Of course, you will also see that sign, the one that started it all.

“Just plain thank you there’s nothing, it says it all,” he said.