Roswell’s veterans were revered in a Memorial Day ceremony at the General Douglas L. McBride Veterans Cemetery, in which military members were remembered for their service, and fallen and wounded warriors were honored for their sacrifices.
The Monday morning ceremony began with a master of ceremonies speech by American Legion Post 28 past commander Jimmy Montoya. Montoya then called for the posting of the colors by the Veterans Honor Guard.
Musical performances was provided by Tom Blake, as he first sang “God Bless America” and later in the ceremony sang the emotional song “Some Gave All.”
A proclamation was given by Mayor Dennis Kintigh, who proclaimed May 29, 201,7 as Veterans Memorial Day.
“(I) urge all citizens of this community to celebrate this day as a day for prayer and ceremonies, showing respect for American veterans,” Kintigh said. “Let us hold high those who are defending and protecting our country, our freedom and our way of life.”
After Kintigh’s proclamation, five wreaths were placed. The first wreath placed was the Military Order of Purple Heart Auxiliary and it was donated by Grace Community Church.
The American Legion Auxiliary wreath was placed next and it was donated by Anderson-Bethany Funeral Home.
The third wreath placed was the Disabled American Veteran Auxiliary wreath. It was donated by the Roswell Daily Record.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary wreath was the fourth wreathed to be placed and it was donated by the Roswell Catholic Community.
The last wreath to be placed, the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action, was donated by Gateway Church International.
After the wreaths were placed, Major Randall Bates, the guest speaker, was invited to take the podium.
Bates, from the New Mexico Army National Guard, reminded the crowd of the seriousness of Memorial Day.
“Memorial Day is not a day of celebration,” Bates said. “It is not a holiday. It is not about camping, or boating or picnicking or football games. But rather it is about memorializing and remembering those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that each of us have the opportunity to live the American Dream.”
In his speech, Bates recognized and honored the veterans in the crowd who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the War on Terrorism, and the sacrifices they made for their country.
Bates said that, if people don’t understand the sacrifices made by veterans, then it is their job to help them understand.
“I’m guessing that each of you already realize the sacrifices that have been made for each of us in this great country that we live in, or else you wouldn’t be here today,” Bates said. “I can only hope that the remainder of society truly understands. If not, it is our job to teach them.”
Bates said that even though some veterans are frustrated by the younger generation of today, there is still a majority of younger people who show their respect for veterans.
“I know there can be some frustration with a few from our young generation,” he said. “However, please note how the crowd goes quiet during the national anthem in Roswell, New Mexico. Note the number of young people who are respectful to the military and to their veterans.
“Don’t let the few that are not respectful get you down,” Bates continued, “because after all, this is what each of us in uniform and all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice have fought for; their opportunity to speak freely whether we agree, or disagree, with their content.”
Bates concluded his speech on a powerful note, guaranteeing that the generations of tomorrow will serve if called.
“Like every generation before, Americans will step forward and pay the ultimate sacrifice because they do know that freedom is not free,” Bates said.
After Bates’ speech, James Bloodhart was called for the Dedication of Columbarium, then Frank Sosa, the new commander for Post 28, gave his address.
Louis Brady and Jake Trujillo played taps, after numerous doves were released.
A benediction was provided by Post Chaplin Mark Rowland. Before his prayer, he mentioned veterans who served during the Cold War in Roswell and across the country, who also deserved some recognition.
In his prayer, he asked for God to “bless and strength those brave souls who selflessly given themselves without asking anything in return. We ask you to heal our wounded warriors who returned home in pain after they gave their all for this great land.”
The ceremony ended with the retiring of colors by the Roswell Veterans Honor Guard, which was led by Commander John Taylor.
Sosa concluded the ceremony by giving his closing remarks, saying Memorial Day is a “sacred” day.
“May God bless all MIAs, POWs and all veterans. May God bless each and every one of you and us, and may God bless the United States of America,” Sosa said.
General assignment reporter Katy Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or firstname.lastname@example.org.