The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

In their memory

Area residents recognize those who gave their all at ceremonies and events

 

It was near the end of the Civil War and largely in small towns where the tradition that became Memorial Day first began. It remains strong in small towns to this day, Col. John Boudreaux told a crowd assembled Monday morning during a ceremony at the Portales Cemetery.

"A day to be with family and remember," said Cannon Air Force Base's Missions Support Group commander. "And to pray no heroes ever have to die for us again."

Many of those gathered took seat in a tree's shade during the ceremony, aside a symbolic plot of crosses and flags between the speaker's podium and the main flagpole. Miniature flags were already placed at veteran graves in the cemetery, and a newly dedicated memorial stone was set up the night before in front of the main flag.

Gaylon Bobo, a Portales native and Vietnam-era Navy veteran, made and transported the half-ton stone memorial honoring the 200th Coast Artillery, he said. The stone bears the coat of arms for the unit from New Mexico whose soldiers were among those forced as prisoners of war on the infamous Bataan Death March of April, 1942.

American Legion Post 31 Commander Dale Streeter said the program Monday "went wonderfully," citing remarks from Boudreaux and Portales Mayor Ronald Jackson, as well as a reading from Don Criss that included two WWI-era poems: "In Flanders Fields," by John McCrae and "The Cremation of Sam McGee," by Robert W. Service.

Rev. Gary Piepkorn bookended the ceremony with an invocation and benediction, and Rev. Franklin Smith sang the national anthem.

The day was a solemn occasion for many, "just remembering all the ones that have fallen, that never made it home," said American Veterans Post 2017 Commander Tommy Knight, a Clovis native and Army veteran at the Portales ceremony.

Clovis also recognized the day.

"Before I came in the military, not knowing anything about the military, I just thought Memorial Day was a time for cookouts," said Elijah "Rooster" Williams, an Air Force veteran of more than 22 years. He participated in Lawnhaven Memorial Gardens' ceremony, which had new turf installed Friday for the event.

Williams said he was grateful not to have lost any of his own close friends in combat, but he knew well the sacrifices of others.

"Look at the graveyards," he said. "They're out there."

Williams also attended a cookout-style meal Monday afternoon at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post 3015. At the morning ceremony in Clovis, he was "standing tall, holding the flag."

That ceremony was held jointly by the Clovis VFW post and American Legion Post 25, whose members also placed flags by local veteran graves during the weekend.

Emcee Vernon Luce, a former New Mexico commander for Veterans of Foreign Wars, implored everybody at the ceremony to have a renewed commitment to appreciating those who sacrificed.

"From the patriots who fired the first shots of the Revolutionary War to the forces who are deployed around the world today, America has been blessed to have citizens who willingly serve, fight and sometimes die for their country," Luce said.

For many on Monday it was also a day off work, but at the end of a three-day weekend highlighted early by Cannon Air Force Base's 2018 air show Saturday and Sunday. Either at ceremonies or cookouts, in a graveyard or simply outside looking at the skies, there were plenty of opportunities this weekend to remember.

Managing Editor Kevin Wilson contributed to this story.

 

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