Day of remembrance

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Ben Donaldson of Boy Scout Pack 225 from Clovis takes part in Saturday’s Veterans Day Parade on Main Street.

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The meaning of this day buzzes around — simply and poignantly — in the mind of 6-year-old Hailey Renfro.

Veterans, the little girl said, “Go really far from Clovis and they start fighting.”

“Then,” said Hailey, one of many children whose pockets were stuffed with candy Saturday during a veterans parade, “we pray so they can come home safely.”

Streets were peppered with people Saturday morning for the annual Veterans Day Parade. Legs dangled from the beds of pickup trucks parked along Main Street and flags rippled in the cold wind.

For many in Clovis, Veterans Day passed unnoticed. About 66 percent of those surveyed in a Clovis News Journal online poll indicated they would not celebrate the holiday.

Those who did, did so bittersweet.

His hands hidden in the pockets of his jacket, Vietnam veteran Allen Dale Head stood on the sidewalk as floats snaked down the road.

He remembered his father and his uncle, veterans of a bloodshed that came before his own. Once, as a boy — after his father refused to tell tales of his fight in Japan — he asked his uncle about his service in World War II.

“‘There was a lot of foxholes,’” his uncle answered. “‘And we won’t talk about this ever again.’”

Near the tail of a truck, stood Kathy Wall, 53. She was a young bride — married for six months — when her husband left for Vietnam.

“I was mortified,” she said. “I didn’t watch the news,” she paused. “I was just thankful when he came home…every time.”

Her husband, she said, was deployed to Vietnam 12 times. Often, she said, those who have not been touched by war take the sacrifices of veterans for granted.

“They sacrifice so much. Their families, their relations. The ones we lost,” Wall said.

Later, veterans gathered inside a smoky building on Grand Ave., VFW Post 3280, where the names of hundreds of “departed comrades” trail across a wall.

They had food and drinks, mostly bottles of beer, and honored parade winners with shiny trophies.

“We are veterans,” said parade organizer Sid Turner, Chairman of the Joint Veterans Council of Clovis and Roosevelt County. “And we are dedicated to all veterans, and the troops that are serving right now.”