City readies parade for returning soldiers

By Tony Parra

If Lindsey Elementary School sixth-grader Sorina Flores has a chance to meet a soldier on Saturday, this is the message she will deliver:

“Thank you for risking your life for us and we all love you,” she said.

Classmate Haley Bonner will say, ‘“Hi and thanks for all that you do.’”

Last year, she said, she had a pen pal who was stationed in Iraq.

Haley and Sorina are members of Lindsey’s honor choir, which is one of about 20 organizations planning to participate in the “Welcome Home Troops” parade, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

The parade started out as a way to honor several local members of the 126th Military Police, a newly formed New Mexico National Guard Unit that has just returned from Iraq. Organizers found out that other military personnel had recently returned so the idea was expanded into a day honoring all military service people.

Nancy Jones, music teacher at Lindsey Elementary, said the honor-choir students voted with an overwhelming majority to participate in the parade.

“I felt really happy we decided to do it,” said Rebecca Looney, an honor-choir member. Rebecca’s father, Scott Neske, is in the Air Force and is stationed at Cannon Air Force Base. “It’s an honor to be representing our school. I’m proud to be an American.”

Jones said there are about 30 sixth-graders in the honor choir and each student must have a B average or higher. The choir members will be singing “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You” during the parade.

“It’s (United States) a great place to be,” said Megan McClary, an honor-choir member. “Somewhere where we are not forced to do something we don’t want to do.”

Nancy Gentry, a parade organizer, said there will be more than 20 entries. They include the Portales Rat Pack jeep club, Yucca Telecommunications, The Girl Scouts, Roosevelt County Electric and the Portales High School band.

Kevin Robbins, a military veteran and member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Portales, will participate, along with other VFW and American Legion members, Gentry said.

A fire truck will carry members of the 126th Military Police, which include soldiers from Portales.