For veterans, holiday time of remembrance

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed Bruce Pollard, commander of American Legion Post 117 in Clovis, left, converses with 20-year U.S. Navy veteran Milton Mitchell, right, about the significance of Veteran’s Day.

Benna Sayyed

Clovis veterans feel Veterans Day is a time of year when citizens should remember and honor veterans who served the country to ensure the freedom of all Americans. Bruce Pollard, commander of American Legion Post 117 in Clovis, served in the U.S. Army for seven years before getting out in 1963. Pollard appreciates those who continue to support veterans by attending Veterans Day events, but would like to see more support.

“I just don’t think the American people appreciate the veterans like they should. There shouldn’t be no room down on Main Street. Everybody should be out at the veteran’s parade. We’ve lost fathers, uncles, brothers, brother-in-laws, and people tend to forget what they did,” said Pollard, who will represent American Legion Post 117 on a float led by a coed marching group.

“A lot of veterans are still overseas. They would like to be home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, other holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. We’re here for these days; they’re not. They’re fighting for us so we can do that on Thanksgiving,” Pollard said.

Pollard said youngsters should attend Veterans Day events and talk to vets to see how dedicated the vets are, and develop a better understanding of freedom and realize that freedom is precious.

Tim Talley, Commander of DAV No. 6 in Clovis, said Veterans Day provides a good opportunity for youngsters or immigrants new to the country to talk to older veterans to learn about American military history. Talley, who served in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years before being medically discharged in 1985, said the experiences older vets can share from combat and international travels can be enlightening.

“A couple months ago I had the opportunity to talk to a couple of surviving World War II Navajo code talkers. I was just amazed talking to them knowing their history during World War II and some of the racial things that they had to go through,” Talley said.

Code talkers were a group of Navajos who used the Navajo language to facilitate communication among U.S. armed forces in the Pacific during World War II.

Talley believes the military has a worldwide camaraderie. He said that veteran’s organizations allow veterans to travel around the nation, feel welcomed by these organizations and be treated like family. He said the military is an institution in his family that started in 1943.

Talley’s organization will be at Wal-Mart on Veterans Day and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. selling T-shirts, hats and giving out forget-me-nots, flowers to make the public aware that veteran’s organizations exist in Clovis. The money generated from this fundraiser will be used to help veterans in need.

“If you don’t know any veterans it is not too hard to pick them out. Let them know how you feel. I’ve had people who I’ve never met before come up to me and say that they appreciated my service. It’s very humbling when somebody says that to you,” Talley said.

Milton Mitchell, a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran who retired in 1993, stressed that many Americans have abundant freedom that should be appreciated. Mitchell said many older veterans, particularly African American, inspired him to work hard and excel in the Navy.

“These veterans came out of slavery. I have it easy; you have it easy. Those old guys that I’ve seen that went into the military came from a hard life to the modern life. They gave me spirit to do what I got to do for me and my family. If they can live, even though it’s hard on them, I can do it,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell will be going to Cameo Elementary School Friday to speak to children about his experiences in the Navy. His two granddaughters and grandson attend Cameo.

“I got a grandson who is nine years old. He sees my uniform and asks me what it’s all about. He went to Lubbock last weekend and saw military men in uniforms. He sat up over my arm and said ‘I want to be like my papa.’ He wants to join the service and he asked me to come to his school tomorrow and tell these little kids what the Navy is all about,” Mitchell said.