By Darrell Todd Maurina
Light rain didn’t dampen the spirits of about 100 people who turned out Monday morning for the Clovis Memorial Day program.
“I asked about seven or eight people what we should do,” said Jim Cowman, co-organizer for the event. “Nobody said don’t go. They had to fight in the rain and this is a small sacrifice.”
While many of the veterans come year after year to Memorial Day observances, rain or shine, Cowman said he was particularly appreciative of about 20 volunteers from Clovis High School who sang at the event.
“I’m so glad that so many showed up despite the rain; it’s voluntary and they’re not required to do it,” said high school choir teacher Chuck Tipton. “They were very supportive because of what it’s for. A lot of the kids are military kids; I didn’t have to tell them why it’s important.”
Conveying the importance of Memorial Day to a younger generation was the theme for the speaker, Chief Master Sgt. James Randall of Cannon Air Force Base.
“We can keep the sacrifice that has been made alive and real — not, God forbid, to glorify war — but to make sure the next generation knows and understands the price paid by those who came before them,” Randall told the assembled audience at Mission Garden of Memories cemetery. “Ladies and gentlemen, the sacrifice made by those laid to rest and in veterans’ homes across this nation demands that we teach our children to remember what they did for us. If we don’t, shame on us!”
Randall said too many Americans today use the term “hero” too readily.
“There are things greater than our own self interests, that freedom is not free and that it is the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who gave their lives that are the real heroes,” Randall said. “We must let them know that all we enjoy today was bought and paid for by these ordinary people who made extraordinary sacrifices, not because they wanted to be heroes, not because they had a death wish, but because they realized that there are things that are more important than self, things like liberty and justice and basic human rights.”
“It is frightening to consider what might have been if these courageous men and women would have put themselves first instead of their duty,” Randall said.
Portales American Legion Post 31 Commander Joe Blair said the Memorial Day observance in his community had similar attendance of about 100 and retired Methodist pastor Rev. Farrell Odom also emphasized the importance of educating the youth.
“He talked mostly about veterans and the wars we’ve had,” Blair said. “Some people have lost sight of what Memorial Day is for. Many young people have no idea about World War I or World War II or Korea or Vietnam. We need to instill in them that freedom is not free.”
An earlier ceremony in Portales conducted by the United Daughters of the Confederacy also went well.
“They have about 20 people and they recognize the deceased 26 Confederate veterans they have out there, and a couple of ladies do a reading about the Civil War and close with taps,” Blair said.
“With weather like it was early, it went really well,” Blair said. “It was cold and the wind was blowing, but considering all that it went really well.”