By Tyler Allen EBS Senior Editor
BIG SKY – Sons of the American Legion, Post 99 will honor the 10th Mountain Division during Big Sky Resort’s Military Appreciation Weekend, Dec. 12-13.
The U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division has played a significant role in the history of the ski industry and helped fuel the post-World War II skiing boom in this country. The soldiers were pioneering instructors, resort developers, equipment designers and manufacturers, and international racers.
Veterans of the 10th Mountain Division include Pete Seibert who founded Colorado’s Vail Mountain, and Dick Wilson, who became the editor of National Skiing magazine, before it was renamed Skiing magazine.
Big Sky’s SAL chapter will host numerous events during the weekend honoring the divisions’ sacrifice in World War II and their contribution to skiing, according to squadron leader Jeremy Harder.
“The recreation we do in Big Sky really started in the military,” Harder said. “We just want to make people aware of that, honor that, and make the next generation understand [these activities] didn’t start because they were fun things to do.”
Harder says that in addition to skiing, both rock climbing and mountain biking can trace their roots to the military, and SAL Post 99 is dedicated to educating the Big Sky community about that history.
The group will host an après ski with American Legion members on Friday, Dec. 11 at Mr. Hummers in the resort’s mountain mall, before a screening of Warren Miller Entertainment’s “Climb to Glory” upstairs in the Mammoth Room.
On Saturday, festivities will continue in the Mammoth Room from 11-12 p.m. with a live Skype interview with 10th Mountain Division veteran Ralph Harder – Jeremy’s grandfather – followed by a slide show depicting the division’s historical role in the ski industry.
At 12:30 p.m., Legion members and their families will ski down Mr. K as a group with American flags to honor those who served the country.
Big Sky’s SAL chapter was formed this summer and meets the first Tuesday of every month at the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill. The Sons of the American Legion is open to any male whose father or grandfather served in the U.S. Armed Forces during conflicts determined by the American Legion.
Post 99 has recruited nearly 20 members since this summer, Harder said, and it has a number of upcoming community initiatives. The group hopes to build a small interpretive center at Soldiers Chapel that will include commemorative plaques, and plant new trees at the site.
“The big thing is educating the community about the military,” Harder said. “[We’re] using recreation as a hook to get people excited about it.”