KOB.com Web Staff
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Memorial Day Monday, people everywhere remembered the men and women who protected America’s freedoms with their own lives. All over the state, New Mexicans paid tribute to this nation’s true heroes.
Hundreds of people attended the ceremony at the New Mexico Veteran’s Memorial in Albuquerque, hearing from several people including Mayor Richard Berry along with Harrison Jack Schmitt, a former astronaut, scholar and U.S. senator from New Mexico.
In Rio Rancho, folks lined the streets for a parade there. Later, the city hosted a Memorial Day ceremony to honor the true reason for the national holiday.
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At the Santa Fe National Cemetery, one of the oldest national cemeteries in the United States, many New Mexico families remembered their loved ones who served. There are more than 59,000 burial sites for men and women who died in the Civil War, both world wars and, more recently, the Korean and Vietnam wars.
A monument nearby honors the Navajo Code Talkers, those who were able to help American forces communicate during World War II without the enemy being able to decipher.
The Santa Fe National Cemetery was established shortly after the Civil War ended. Santa Fe, the oldest capital in the U.S., was also the site of a Civil War battle where Union soldiers cut off the supply to Confederate soldiers, forcing them to retreat to Texas.
Gov. Susana Martinez and retired Air Force Col. Ken Cordier also attended a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park in Angel Fire.
U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., posted a video on YouTube honoring those who served during the Vietnam War. Pearce graduated from Hobbs High School in 1965 as the conflict in Southeast Asia waged on.
"None of us were quite sure what that meant – We didn’t know what it meant internationally, we did not know the significance for the nation, but we especially didn’t know what it meant for us," Pearce said in his video. "We were to find out, us in the class of 1965, of the young men who did not come home from Hobbs – there were nine of them – five were from the class of 1965. Kids I knew well, kids I hung around on the playground with.
"Let us on this Memorial Day set apart time that we would remember the names on the wall, we would remember those who just were our average kids working on the block, playing with us on the sports teams, maybe they just went to school, but let’s remember those lives that were cut short in the line of duty – you and I – we can consecrate that memory."
Below is the full video from Pearce. For mobile users, click here.
Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., also released a statement saying it’s important to care for veterans who served this country.
"This Memorial Day, we honor the men and women in uniform who have given their lives for our freedoms, our democracy, and our way of life. Many of these service members were young men and women with their lives before them. We honor these courageous New Mexicans and all others who have died in defense of the principles and values that make our country great – including tolerance and respect for all races, creeds, and colors. And we recommit to ensuring that our most vulnerable are cared for, that the men and women of our Armed Forces and our veterans receive the honor they deserve and the benefits they have earned, and to working even harder in our own communities and in our own ways to defend our country’s best values."
Tonight on KOB Eyewitness News 4 at 10, Jen French will have a story of a Purple Heart World War II veteran honored by former President Bill Clinton. That veteran is buried here at the Santa Fe National Monument.