Española Honors Its Veterans At Veteran’s Day Ceremony

by Staff Reporter / Nov 15, 2017 / comments
A  large crowd attended the Veteran’s Day celebration at the Veteran’s Memorial Wall at the Plaza de Española Nov. 1 and were visibly pleased with the honor and respect given to deserving veterans of whom some have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy as Americans today. An MIA chair remained unused and draped in black, reminding us “never to forget” American soldiers “Missing in Action. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the valleydailypost.com

Española Honors Its Veterans At Veteran’s Day Ceremony

By ROBERT NARANJO

It was a sunny, beautiful Veteran’s Day at the Plaza de Española, Nov. 11, and keynote speaker, Jake Alarid, took advantage of it and spoke eloquently on veterans and their contributions for the freedoms that we as Americans enjoy today. Additionally, Alarid spoke about the

many issues veterans nationwide are facing with New Mexico faring poorly among the country’s veterans with sobering statistics on many of them struggling with homelessness, health and other issues after faithfully serving their country.

Alarid, a Korean War veteran, The American G.I. Forum past National Chairman, and Space Shuttle Program engineer for 30 years, was at times a historian of veterans’ actions and touched on how Armistice Day (established in 1938 honoring WW I Veterans) later became today’s Veterans Day in 1954 honoring veterans from all past wars according to Alarid. And, at other times, a spokesman and champion for veterans. He spoke with a heartfelt love for his fellow veterans offering sage advice to them and urged them to apply for benefits that they richly deserve adding that many veterans do not know what benefits they are entitled to. He called for more outreach to veterans.

 

Honored guest speaker, Jake Alarid, former Korean War veteran, National Commander of the American  G.I. Forum, and Shuttle Space Program Engineer (Ret.) for 30 years makes a point in a poignant speech delivered honoring American and New Mexico veterans at the Veteran’s Memorial Wall at the Plaza de Española on  Nov. 11,  Veteran’s Day. Alarid delivered the keynote speech and spoke eloquently at length about their unmatched bravery, their history, and the need for veterans to apply for benefits they earned and richly deserve. Alarid consistently drove home the point to always remember, honor and respect our veterans and what they did for all Americans. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the valleydailypost.com

Alarid covered PTSD, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which he said was not yet diagnosed until recent times. Vets of long ago were said to be suffering from “Shell Shock.” He spoke on the issuing of ID cards, now available, so Vets don’t need to take their DD 214 (Honorable Discharge) papers every time they apply for benefits. He also mentioned that people in northern New Mexico would say, “Se fueren a la Guerra a peliar…y dejaron la novias llorando,” (They went to war to fight and left the wives or girlfriends crying.) He touched on the disgraceful treatment of Vietnam Veterans by many Americans upon their return from the Vietnam War.

He mentioned congressional funding in the millions of dollars for veterans that has recently passed. And, federal tax credits for companies hiring unemployed veterans -- $9,600 for hiring a veteran that has been unemployed for a year, $5,000 for hiring a veteran that has been unemployed for 6 months.

But without question, Alarid’s best part of his speech was his refrain, “Take a Knee” then repeated it as he mentioned past major battles of veterans in wars. “Take a Knee for The Battle of Glorieta Pass,” (The Gettysburg of the West), Take a Knee for Normandy, Beluga, Vietnam Vets who suffered prejudice, WW I, Korea, etc.…”

Appropriately enough, a giant U.S. Flag on a EFD ladder truck was proudly displaying “Old Glory” immediately behind the Veteran’s Wall area. Many locals and visitors filled the stands to attend the Veteran’s Day activities. The Española Valley High School Class of 1977 unveiled a granite bench donated to the Veteran’s Wall Commission in celebration of their 40th Class Reunion held recently and to honor all veterans on Veterans Day.

Pictured here are a few members of the Española Valley High School Class of 1977 (class graduated 399 seniors) held a silent auction at their 40th class reunion recently which drew close to 150 classmates and used proceeds to buy a granite banco or bench to donate to the Veteran’s Wall Commission in honor of all veterans at the Veteran’s Day celebration on Nov. 1.  Joe Garcia of La Mesilla created the banco. Valleydailypost.com photojournalist, Robert Naranjo, was a member of that class and is pictured here with his classmates. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the valleydailypost.com

The Mayor of the City of Española, Alice Lucero, welcomed and thanked all participants including city councilors in attendance, (Valdez, Seeds, P. Martinez & Martinez), for making the day a success. She thanked the EVHS JROTC and their leader, U.S. Army Major (Ret) Mark Gonzales for posting of the colors. Lucero also thanked former NM Hispano Music Association (NMAA) Youth Artist of the Year, Justin Sanchez, who sang the National Anthem and received a resounding applause and much praise from special guest speakers. She also thanked all veteran’s groups present including the Santa Fe Chapter of the DAV, who performed a 21 Gun Salute and followed by a lone Bugler who performed taps.

Santa Fe DAV  (Disabled American Veterans) “Honor Guard” fires a 21 Gun Salute to all veterans followed by “Taps,” also performed by a Santa Fe DAV  Honor Guard member at the Veteran’s Memorial Wall at the Plaza de Española, Nov. 1. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the valleydailypost.com

Emcee U.S. Marines Master Sgt. (Ret.) Ron Gallegos told the crowd that Taps just touches his heart and is his favorite musical composition. The mayor concluded with a “Have a safe Veteran’s Day and God bless you and God bless America.”

Ron Gallegos, U.S Marines Master Sgt. (Ret.), served as emcee at the Veteran’s Day Celebration on Nov. 1 and told the assembled crowd that “Taps” just touches him in the heart and it is his favorite musical composition. Pictured to the left of Sgt. Gallegos is Española Knights of Columbus Grand Knight, Mel Martinez whose fellow “Brother Knights”  performed the traditional “Display of Swords” honoring veterans. Knight Fidel Trujillo spoke on behalf of the Knights of Columbus. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the valleydailypost.com

The Knights of Columbus and their leader, Grand Knight Mel Martinez, did the presentation of Swords and Knight Fidel Trujillo spoke on behalf of the Knights.

The Sikh community provided some scrumptious tostadas and water after the ceremony at the Plaza gazebo. The Española Valley High School Class of 1977 donated a cake to the Veteran’s Day ceremony in honor of the granite bench or banco, that the class donated which sits in front of the Veteran’s Wall. The cake was baked by Dino Martinez at the Lovin’ Oven and drew praise from everyone who got a piece of it. Joe Garcia of La Mesilla made the beautiful granite banco.

Another Veteran’s Day has passed, but we as a community must remember Jake Alarid’s words and not forget our veterans. Help one that needs assistance, respect the men (and women) who have fought and died to help keep this country the “Land of the Free and the home of the Brave.”