Residents honor fallen

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Cannon Air Force Base Honor Guard members renders a salute during Monday’s Memorial Day Observance at Lawn Haven Gardens.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Betty Grissom said it was her husband’s request to be buried in Clovis.

Grissom’s husband of 44 years, Thomas, was buried two years ago at the Lawn Haven Honor Garden, an area in the cemetery reserved for veterans. Thomas, a member of the Air Force for 20 years, was the first person buried in the area.

Grissom said her husband, who served in the Vietnam war, was slated to go to the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, but wanted to be buried in Clovis to be closer to his wife.

“This is where he wanted to be so we can visit him more often than driving to Santa Fe,” said Betty, who attended with her daughters and grandchildren the Memorial Day Service at the cemetery.

About 75 people attended Monday’s service at Lawn Haven Gardens, which was sponsored by the Joint Veterans Council.

Members of the Cannon Air Force Base Honor Guard presented colors and fired a nine-gun salute.

Phil Lenfant retired from the U.S. Navy seven years ago. He said he put on his navy blue uniform for the first time since he retired from the service. Lenfant introduced the keynote speaker during the service.

“I feel very strongly about this ceremony,” said Lenfant, a 30-year Navy veteran. “This day is a special day. It’s especially important and meaningful to Clovis in the context of what goes on today. There are people in Cannon Air Force base who go off to fight a war that we’re in today, which is a global war. And so for me to have been asked to participate in this ceremony is particularly meaningful and very special to me.”

He said during Memorial Day he remembers his comrades in arms who have died in battle during the Gulf War and other military operations. Lenfant said he served in the Gulf War.

“But equally important, we also need to recognize those members in the armed forces that are still here today doing the job, particularly now when we’re in a time of conflict and a lot of stress and strain on this nation,” he said.

While Lenfant spoke of decades of service, Mark Harper was teaching grandson Kaden Foote how to salute. Harper, who retired in 2000 after 20 years in the Air Force, was also joined at the event by his wife, Ann, and his dog, Boggee.

Harper admitted while he served, his attendance at events like Monday’s could have been better. He tries to make up for lost opportunities now.

“So many people have lost loved ones,” Harper said. “A lot of times, those loved ones are forgotten. I’s important to pay respect to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Grissom said she visits her husband’s grave throughout the year but during Memorial Day she said she and her family remember and honor all the men and women who died in service.

“We honor the veterans no matter what war they were in,” she said “Vietnam was supposed to be a conflict, not a war, but it took lots of lives and I was proud that my husband could serve in the military to protect our freedom and we just miss all of them.”