Parade draws residents, sense of pride

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Navy veteran Natasha Beckwith, left, holds the American flag Saturday standing with fellow veteran Les Bassinger on the American Veterans Post No. 14 float during the Veterans Day Parade. To view more photos from the parade, visit fnm.mycapture.com.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Milia and Cadence Ratledge, 4-year-old twins from Clovis, pointed at the horses and picked up candy Saturday as they watched the Veterans Day parade pass by.

While the two were excited about the sights and sounds of the parade, their mother Mandy Ratledge said she’s explained to them the significance of Veterans Day.

“They understand there are soldiers fighting for our country,” said Ratledge, who had four great uncles who served in the military. “They understand the importance of the flag, that it symbolizes our freedom.”

More than 30 veteran and community groups paraded down Main Street. Last year’s parade had about 40 entries.

Before the parade started, Zak Casarez and Michael Chavez, Clovis High School sophomores and members of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, handed out Buddy Poppies among the crowd.

Casarez said the red poppies symbolize the blood veterans shed while serving their country.

Chavez said he’s attends the parade every year and has saved poppies from previous years.

Cliff Silcox and his family saw the parade in Clovis for the first time. The Silcox family moved to Clovis from Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas.

A veteran himself, Silcox said it was nice to see the community support the troops and veterans.

“Especially now since we’re involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Silcox’s wife, Paula.

Donnie Wimberly said it is an honor to be veteran and have a day honoring the men and women who sacrificed their lives in service of the country. Wimberly is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. His father Vernon served in the Army Air Corp. during Word War II.

Donnie Wimberly said more needs to be done for veterans, mainly improving health benefits they receive.

“I think veterans should be offered more health care than they’re getting right now,” he said.

John Washington, a veteran of the Korean War, said veterans often complain to him about the long wait they endure to receive treatment at veterans hospitals.

“We fought so hard for out benefits,” said Washington, a legislative representative for the Joint Veterans Council in eastern New Mexico. “I feel like the country should be more appreciative of veterans who sacrificed their lives.”

A dedication ceremony of a Blue Star Memorial Marker honoring veterans is scheduled 2 p.m. today at the New Mexico Visitors Center along U.S. 60/84

Veterans Day is Tuesday

Area banks will be closed today in recognition of Veterans Day. Also closed are area courts, county and city government and area post offices. The Clovis News Journal will be open for normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Numbers:

5,000 - Veterans in Curry County, according to Rick Robertson former Veterans Activities Program Director at Cannon Air Force Base.

36 - Parade entries including veterans and community groups.

Parade winners

Veterans Organization Floats

First place – VFW Post 3280

Second place – AMVETS

Third place – VFW Post 3015

Veterans Organization Marching Units

First place – Cannon Air Force Base Color Guard

Second place – Air Force Sergeants Association

Third place – American Legion Post 117

Businesses/Organizations

First place – Clovis 50+ Olympics

Second place – Retirement Ranch of Clovis

Third place – Code Blue of Clovis