Mow your lawn, wash your car, and if you see trash on the street, pick it up.

We need to look respectable in the coming days.

The team evaluating Colorado Springs to determine whether we get to keep U.S. Space Command will be roaming our streets starting Wednesday. And like a visit from your in-laws, things may go better if you clean up a bit.

The Pentagon evaluators already know much about Colorado Springs. This city has played host to thousands of our nation's troops since shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack. It remains a destination of choice for soldiers and airmen because of its people, and the scenery doesn't hurt.

Booming demand for Colorado Springs space workers

The Space Command headquarters, with 1,400 troops, is a small piece of our big military community, which is home to nearly 90,000 veterans, 40,000 members of the armed services and another 60,000 spouses and kids of those who serve.

But it is an important piece of this community's past and its future.

The command, which was first established here in 1985 before it was shuttered in 2002, connects the Pikes Peak region to the boundless opportunities of space.

It brings thousands of well-paid jobs here and infuses our community with the brain power of no-kidding rocket scientists.

It has driven our colleges to look to the stars and created an industry that means our children can aspire to the kind of work that will keep them here into the future.

That's all at risk.

Colorado Springs advances in sweepstakes to house U.S. Space Command

When the opportunity to house the reorganized Space Command was offered by the Pentagon, cities in 26 states clamored for the chance. Now, that list has been paired down to six finalists, with Colorado Springs vying against Albuquerque, San Antonio, Huntsville, Omaha and Florida's Space Coast.

Some of the other places are opening their wallets with incentives to woo the command.

Colorado Springs has incentives to offer, too, and local leaders will trot those out next week when the evaluators come through.

But what will be harder to show are things that can't be calculated like checkbook balances or median housing prices.

What folks from Washington D.C. may not understand is how much the Pikes Peak region loves its neighbors in uniform.

Lamborn takes leap on Armed Services panel | Tom Roeder

We serve beside them in Scout troops and on Little League ball fields. They sit in the next pew in church or push the cart ahead of you in King Soopers.

We're glad to give these people from all over America a place to call home amid their nomadic military lives. We're sad when they leave and always happy to welcome them back.

When they deploy overseas, we are there when the water heater breaks or when they need a babysitter after too many days alone with toddlers.

We sometimes pick up their breakfast check. And while thanking troops for their service has become hackneyed elsewhere, here it is heartfelt.

Yes, we want the economic opportunities that come with Space Command. Every community in the country does.

But we really want our neighbors to stay put.

They are our friends and part of the extended family that happens in towns like Colorado Springs, where almost everyone started out in life somewhere else.

So, we'll grab our brooms and lawn mowers next week, and put on a bit of polish for the visiting Pentagon brass.

Raymond building culture of urgency into new Space Force

That's just the kind of neighbors we are.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx


Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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