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

Williamson: Communities pulling out stops for Veterans Day

 

November 7, 2018



Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice signed to end hostilities in World War I, giving our communities an extra reason to pull out all the stops with at least a dozen Veterans Day activities this year. (See the events calendar for a full listing.)

One in Portales will be especially poignant for locals with long ties to the area, an evening-long celebration scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9515, 316 S. Main, Portales.

Retired Air Force Col. and Portales native Mike Woolley said the local VFW is hosting its third “Wall of Honors” evening to honor 10 well known eastern New Mexicans who “represent a cross section of Roosevelt County during the building years.”

Honorees for 2018 include Fred M. Davis, Charles Preston Dunn, Gordon K. Greaves, Herman O. Lehman, Kenneth Livingston, Ella B. “Becky” Sharp, J.P. Steiner, Jimmy Warnica, Jack Williamson, and Morris Wood.

“We have had a theme for each ceremony,” Woolley said. “The first year was ‘Firsts.’ The second year was ‘Band of Brothers.’ This year, it is ‘Proudly served ... returned home ... built a community, a county, a state ... and the greatest nation on earth.’”

Previous honorees include Joe Blair, the Bryant brothers, Cecil Cook, the McGee brothers, Johnny Morgan, and Doug Stone Sr. The new names to be added to the wall are equally familiar to many of us who grew up here.

“Dr. Lehman was my doctor,” Woolley said. “Kenneth Livingston was my junior high principal. Gordon Greaves was the publisher of our newspaper. I could go on and on.”

Saturday evening’s fullblown patriotic event will feature participation from a group of future leaders — Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, Boys Scouts and 4-H members, Woolley said, as well “a blend of active duty, retirees, veterans, and future military members.”

With 36 years of service on his own record, Woolley is adamant about the need to keep remembering the sacrifices made by veterans in all branches of service.

“During World War II, 12 percent of the nation served,” he said. “This counts all the elderly, women, and children. If you were able bodied, chances are you served. There was not a family who did not have someone in harm’s way. Today, less that one half of 1 percent serve. War has become second place and literally affects no one. This ceremony puts it ‘front and center’ for at least a night.”

Woolley said VFW Post 9515 is also continuing to gather personal items that help tell the stories of local veterans.

Treasures already housed in the building that was once a Safeway grocery store include Fred Davis’ World War I uniform “that still has mud from the fields of France on the boots,” Woolley said, as well as a mural depicting the USS Farragut where Blair served as a gunner’s mate in World War II, and an airman battle uniform worn by incoming Roosevelt County Magistrate Judge Chris Mitchell.

Woolley hopes to have a packed house for the ceremony and dinner Saturday night, and invites those who attend to spend some time looking at the memorabilia gathered from Roosevelt County veterans.

“I hope people will see that the members of VFW Post 9515 have put to good use an old facility,” he added, “preserving the past while looking to the future.”

Betty Williamson hopes there is a spot on that wall reserved for Mike Woolley. Reach her at:

[email protected]

 
 

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