I would have liked to have been there to see it as Portales veteran Joe Blair got a personal visit to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
One of the things I miss the most about not being at the newspaper office is having Joe stop by to chew a cigar and tell me a story. I was overjoyed when I read he had been able to fly to Washington on an Honor Flight set up across the nation to get as many remaining World War II veterans as possible to the nation’s capital to see a monument to their service that was much too late in coming.
Joe has been genuinely concerned about how quickly we’re losing the men and women who served in that war. I could have looked up the rate at which World War II veterans were passing on the Internet or I could just wait until Joe came in to visit. He is aware of those statistics.
Through the American Legion, Joe and several others dedicate themselves to serving the living and honoring the dead among our military heroes. Joe and his cohorts have planned numerous Veterans Day services and Memorial Day services. On top of that they have provided an honor guard at veterans’ funerals all over the county.
Recently I’ve been thrown together with another group, many of them veterans working on a committee to get a monument honoring all Roosevelt County’s war casualities. The group wants the community to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in wartime. In particular they want to preserve the legacy of those who died from this county on the cruel Bataan Death March, which took a heavy toll locally.
These folks have been working hard to make things happen, with parade floats, dances and fundraising raffles.
This veterans week it was also refreshing to see the local VFW step up with a variety of events honoring veterans and bringing community together. Their focus seems to be on a younger generation with events such as a fun run and motorcycle rally.
I’ve talked about three generations of veterans here whose experiences and lives have been different in the way they’ve approached life and the ways and locales where they’ve served.
A couple of the things that are the same about all these veterans is their concern for their fellow service people and the fact that they got out of the military at some point but none of them quit serving.
I truly believe you can’t do better than to hire a vet or appoint them to a committee to get something done in a community. They’ll do their job, they won’t complain and they’ll do it for the right reasons — their fellow man.