By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer
Freedom does not come without sacrifice and those who have sacrificed their lives shall never be forgotten.
Those were the words of Col. Timothy Leahy, Commander of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, as he spoke during the Memorial Day program on Monday at Portales Cemetery. The Memorial Day observation, sponsored by the American Legion Carl McDermott Post No. 31 and its auxiliary, has been held consecutively, without fail in Portales, for the past 62 years.
Leahy thanked and saluted Portales for its dedication in observing Memorial Day, saying, “That speaks volumes.” He then went on to give a history of Memorial Day and also recognize a handful of living veterans in the audience.
“In the 20th century, America defeated forces of tyranny and today in America, in the 21st century, we are fighting terrorism and hatred,” Leahy said. “Our soldiers have fallen in defense of our nation and of our way of life … It is they, and some of you, that have answered the call to arms.”
Leahy said that all who wear uniforms know the burdens that come with it and added, “On this and every Memorial Day, we must never forget the true purpose … I ask God to watch over all and return safely our armed forces and I pray that God continue to bless America.”
Joe Blair, Commander of the American Legion Post No. 31 read a poem, “Flanders Field,” about World War I, saying, “In our fast-paced world, we seem to have forgotten we had a World War I. I had a brother and a brother-in-law in the Army that were in that campaign.”
During the morning program, Judy Hall paid tribute to Roosevelt County’s two surviving Gold Star mothers, Lila Bryant and Myrtie Smith, who both lost children in the Vietnam War. In speaking of the Gold Star mothers, Hall said, “They bear deep emotional burdens and no amount of memorials or ceremonies can bring them back … I hope there is some comfort in knowing that they have not been forgotten. God bless our Gold Star mothers!”