Remembering the fallen

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson An MC-130W crew from Cannon Air Force Base performs a flyover during the Monday morning Memorial Day observance at Lawn Haven Garden of Honor.

Kevin Wilson

With plenty of wind to blow them, the colors of numerous veteran organization flags flew at half-staff Monday morning.

Their groups, and members of the public, helped form a crowd of about 150 people at the Lawn Haven Garden of Honor to commemorate Memorial Day.

“It seems every time we do this,” said Rick Robertson of the Curry County Veterans Council, which sponsors the annual observance, “more people show up.”

Robertson, secretary of the council, introduced numerous groups, including Marines, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, associated women’s and children’s organizations and the Elks — a group which built the country’s first veterans hospital in Boston in 1918.

Though Robertson joked that keynote speaker Robert Timmons’ service in the Air Force shouldn’t be held against him, the theme of the day was that regardless of the branch of service or the conflict in question, every person who lost their life in combat deserved the highest of honors.

“There is no greater love than to give our life for others,” said Timmons, a doctor who served in the Army during Vietnam.

Timmons said when the time came for him to be drafted, he was told that being a family practitioner was the best way to avoid the draft.

“I remember,” Timmons said, “asking my wife, ‘Why should I be excused? Why should I not do my fair share?’”

Speakers kept their words crisp and to the point — so much so, in fact, that an MC-130W flyover from Cannon Air Force Base scheduled for 10:40 a.m. had to be moved up.

As the audience awaited the flyover, members of Cannon’s Honor Guard performed “Taps” and George Vargas delivered a statement on behalf of Gov. Susana Martinez.

“The effort and sacrifice made by men and women of the military can never be repaid,” Vargas read from the statement by Martinez, who regretted that she could not be at the Clovis event in person.

Kingswood United Methodist Church Pastor David Bachelor, who delivered the opening and closing prayer, noted that before the observance happens again next year, ongoing conflicts virtually guarantee that more American military men and women will give their lives for their country.

“We need to pray in advance,” Bachelor said, “for families that will also pay the price.”