Residents, veterans remember the cost of freedom

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

“Blood will always be the cost of freedom.”

In those words, Pastor Gary Piepkorn stated the significance of Memorial Day, adding that such is the case with both internal and external freedom. The pastor of Faith in Christ Lutheran Church spoke at the United Daughters of the Confederacy Memorial Day observance at the Portales Cemetery.

The American Legion Carl McDermott Post 31 held its own Memorial Day program later at the cemetery. Lt. Col. Arthur D. Davis, deputy commander of the 27th Special Operations Group at Cannon Air Force Base, spoked, and the event honored Portales’ two Gold Star Mothers, women who lost a child in war.

In his speech “Guns and Theology,” Piepkorn said hunting, personal protection and protection from government encroachment on freedom are good reasons to own guns.

“The people should never fear the government,” he said. “The government should fear the people.”

The best right Americans have is theology, Piepkorn continued, and his study of other religions has convinced him that “with Christianity, there’s a freedom like no other.” All other religions require human work to get to God, but it’s never enough, he said.

During the American Legion program, Davis said Memorial Day was first widely observed as “Decoration Day” on May 30, 1868, to honor the people killed in the Civil War. After World War I, the day was renamed Memorial Day and expanded to include those who died in all wars.

Davis said the nation is still at war.

“The men and women that risk their lives or have paid the ultimate price in places like Mosul (Iraq) or Kandahar (Afghanistan) are no different than the fallen in this field of honor and all the other resting places for our nation’s valiant defenders,” he said.

Davis challenged listeners to remember the sacrifice of those who had died in wars and the voids left in their families, as well as the servicemen and women who return with seen and unseen scars.

The people who died didn’t die in vain, Davis said.

“We are a free and prosperous nation because of their sacrifice,” he continued.

Davis also read the names of six airmen killed in the past year, and said he hoped the military’s services would no longer be needed.

“But rest assured, our military will stand for our nation no matter the cost,” he said.

After Davis’ speech, the Gold Star Mothers, who both lost sons in Vietnam, were honored.

After the program, Gold Star Mother Lilia Aryant said the event was one of the nicest things that happened in Portales.

“I appreciate the people, the things they do for us, to remember our boys,” she said.

Gold Star Mother Myrtie Smith said for her, Memorial Day means shedding tears and “reliving it all over.”