Written by Cheryl Fallstead
Las Cruces is a city that knows how to honor her military veterans, including the many monuments at Veterans Memorial Park and the annual Bataan Memorial Death March. It is estimated that there are 21,000 veterans in Doña Ana County, a large population deserving of our appreciation this Veterans Day and throughout the year.
The usual phrase uttered by civilians to vets and active duty military is, “Thank you for your service,” but veteran and filmmaker Dave Witt suggests we should say instead, “Thank you for your sacrifices.” Military personnel, he explains, sacrifice a portion of their lives, and sometimes their health, as well as time with their families, to serve our country. Families sacrifice too, and our appreciation should also be extended to them.
Veterans Day, November 11, is the day set aside to thank the women and men of our military and was established in 1954 by a veteran himself, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Prior to that, the day was Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I.
Here’s what’s happening in our area to honor veterans, active duty military, and their families.
NMSU Military and Veterans Appreciation
Week November 5 – 11
NMSU students, faculty, and staff who are active duty military or veterans and their family members will be honored with a series of activities in the week leading up toVeterans Day. The main NMSU campus serves about 600 veterans with up to 100 active-duty military students. The week begins with an opening ceremony on Monday, November 5, at Aggie Memorial Tower and continues with events such as a Veterans Day picnic, a banquet, and participation in the downtown parade. NMSU Military and Veterans Programs Director Hector Sanchez says, “Our events and programs are designed to appreciate the sacrifice and commitment that our students, staff, and faculty have made in their service to our great country.”
Las Cruces Veterans Day Parade
Saturday, November 10 @ 3pm Main Street Downtown
The Las Cruces Veterans Day Parade has been run by volunteers since 1995 to honor local veterans. This year it will run through Downtown on Main and Water Streets. Former Las Cruces City Councilor Dolores Archuleta says, “The theme of the parade this year is Salute to Women Veterans, and we are encouraging all the women veterans in Las Cruces to participate.” William Hawkins, chairman of the Veterans Day parade committee, says, “Our normal turnout of participants is around 70 different groups, consisting of approximately 2,000 people.”
He explains that the parade includes veterans and veteran’s organizations, school bands, ROTC departments, youth groups, and local car clubs. The winner of the middle school poster contest gets to ride in the parade. To register to be in the parade or check the parade route, go to las cruces- vetday.org.
November 10 and Sunday, November 11 992 S. Broadway
Truth or Consequences
The state veterans home commemorates Veterans Day with a car show Saturday, November 10, from 9am until 3pm with concessions and anautomotive swap meet. Entries can be made in advance or the morning of the event. Contact Jennie Bustamonte at575-894-4200 for information and entry fees. On Sunday at 10am, the commemoration continues with a ceremony honoring veterans, followed by a luncheon (by donation), featuring the Bluegrass music of Uncle Ben and Friends.
Diane Hamilton Military Museum
Saturday, November 10, 996 S. Broadway
Truth or Consequences
The museum celebrates veterans with speakers and other activities. For more information, call Maggie Allen at 575- 740-1650.
San Albino’s Veterans Day Celebration
Friday, November 9 @ 6:30pm 2280 Calle de Principal, Mesilla
The Knights of Columbus, Council 15578 of Basilica de San Albino, will host an evening of fellowship and camaraderie for San Albino Parish veterans and their families, including dessert, beverages, speakers, mementos, and door prizes. For more information, contact Daniel Duffin, Grand Knight, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Town of Mesilla-Disabled American Veterans Ceremony
Sunday, November 11 @ 11am Avenida de Mesilla and Calle del Norte, Mesilla
The Town of Mesilla and DAV 38 collaborate for a ceremony at Parque de los Veteranos, where they will raise the flags, hear from guest speakers and town officials, and enjoy music by the Mayfield chorus.
Raising of Garrison Flag at Veterans Memorial Park
Monday, November 12, 1151 Roadrunner Parkway
The Garrison Flag will be raised at 8am with a bugler and the Pledge of Allegiance. The flag will then be ceremonially lowered at 5pm. This is one of the 18 days the huge flag is flown at the park, which Dolores Archuleta calls one of the pre-eminent veterans’ parks in the country. While there, be sure to visit the Women Veterans’ Memorial, which was dedicated in March. The new memorialwas organized by the United Military Women of the Southwest and features six, life-sized bronze statues of women in various branches of the military wearing uniforms from different eras. It is the only women’s military monument outside Arlington National Cemetery.
Golden Corral Military Appreciation Night
Monday, November 12, 5pm – 9pm, 1661 Hickory Loop
Golden Corral will offer a free sit- down meal to any person who has served in the US military (retirees, veterans, active duty, National Guard, or Reserves). Their website notes that family and friends are welcome to come to dinner, but that free meals are only for those listed.
Other Veterans Day Meals
Many churches and organizations, like the Elks Club, also offer special meals on Veterans Day. Some restaurants and retailers offer discounts for active duty military and veterans on Veterans Day. For information about discounts, check militarybenefits.info.