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Update: Storm leads to cancellation of Memorial Day ceremonies

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UPDATE

Due to Monday morning’s storm, Memorial Day services at Roswell cemeteries have been canceled, according to officials with the city of Roswell and American Legion Post No. 28.

Both services were scheduled at 10 a.m., one at General Douglas L. McBride Veterans Cemetery in South Park Cemetery and at Memory Lawn Memorial Park, 2605 East 19th St.

ORIGINAL STORY

The public is invited Monday to attend two separate Memorial Day ceremonies hosted by veterans organizations.

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Both local American Legion posts — Posts 61 and 28 — will hold an event Monday at 10 a.m. at Memory Lawn Memorial Park cemetery in Roswell, Stephen Lee, commander of Post 61, confirmed Thursday. The privately owned and operated cemetery is located at 2605 East 19th St.

Featured speakers at the event will include Lee, Post 28 Commander Louie Mestas and a representative from the office of New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich. Lee added that there will also be a live rendition of taps.

An American flag, New Mexico state flag and POW/MIA flag have been donated by both posts to be placed on the cemetery flag pole, Lee said.

That event will coincide with another put on by the local group Chaves County Veterans — also scheduled for 10 a.m. — at the General Douglas L. McBride Veterans Cemetery in South Park Cemetery.

Bert Eldridge, the group’s president, said Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh and Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington are expected to deliver remarks and Vietnam War veteran and former state Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, will be honored.

The Roswell Veterans Honor Guard — led by Charlie Barela — will post the colors and local musician Tom Blake will give a musical performance. Louis Brady and Jake Trujillo of the Roswell Veterans Honor Guard will perform a rendition of taps.

Last year, Memorial Day ceremonies were canceled due to state public health orders limiting mass gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, a development that left area veterans disappointed.

Lee noted Memorial Day — dedicated to members of the military who died in defense of country — and Veterans Day, meant to remember all who served, are the only two holidays dedicated to military veterans.

“And so for us not to be able to honor the dead … was really a huge blow to us,” Lee said. “We really owe them a debt of gratitude that we can never pay back,” he said.

This year will be the first time the American Legion hosts a Memorial Day event at Memory Lawn cemetery, which has military veterans among its interred. Lee explained that some members of his post did not even know about the cemetery until a few months ago.

Chaves County Veterans were already set to use McBride Veterans Cemetery for a ceremony, but Lee said Legionnaires in Posts 28 and 61 wanted to not just attend a ceremony, but channel their energies into organizing something showing support for those who died in service to country.

“And when we had an entire cemetery uncovered, we just said, ‘Well, we are going to step up as veterans and make sure our veterans at the other ceremony are covered,’” Lee said.

He added that in the near future Post 61 will likely make improving and maintaining the cemetery an ongoing project.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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