Honoring those who have fallen

Joe Terry of Portales said his father's service inspired him to join the U.S. Army because he understood that it was something he had to do for his country.

"He always said it was a responsibility of citizenship," Terry said.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune

Lt. Col. Travis Norton of Cannon Air Force Base talks about honoring the nation's fallen heroes Monday at the American Legion's 67th annual Memorial Day program in the Portales Cemetery.

Terry carrying on that tradition of service was an example of what Lt. Col. Travis Norton, commander of the 3rd Special Operations Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, spoke about in his Memorial Day Address Monday at the American Legion's 67th annual Memorial Day program.

Norton spoke about tradition and the significance of Memorial Day to a crowd who came to pay tribute to the nation's fallen heroes at the Portales Cemetery.

Norton predicts less than half of 1 percent of the American population serves the nation through the U.S. armed forces, but of that small percent, many of them are following what their ancestors did.

"We're seeing a legacy of service passed down to a generation," Norton said.

And that's why he believes the significance of Memorial Day continues to be buried under weekend sales and barbecues — because there are fewer men and women in the service to teach younger generations about the meaning of Memorial Day.

"Those of us who choose to serve get frustrated with those who use red, white and blue to advertise a sale," Norton said. "How does buying and purchasing honor our fallen? Freedom is truly a gift of those who came before, from those that taught us the value of service."

Norton said he was honored to speak at the American Legion's program and found it imperative that it continues to hold one each year.

"I thank you for carrying this tradition on; it's very important to our nation," said Norton to American Legion Post 31 Commander Joe Blair.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune

Judy Hall of the American Legion Auxiliary in Portales, right, pays a tribute to Gold Star Mother Lila Bryant as she prepares to pin a corsage on her. Bryant's son was killed in combat during the Vietnam War.

As he ended his address, Norton challenged everyone to think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice in combat and say "thank you" on the drive home to all who have served and fought for the freedom of the citizens of this country.

Army veteran John Gentry of Portales said he attended Monday to remember those he served with. Gentry said forgetting them is not an option.

"We need to never forget those men and women who give their lives because there wasn't one of them who didn't want to come home," Gentry said. "We wouldn't be who we are today without them."

Judy Hall, Blair's daughter, said it's always an honor to give a tribute to the Gold Star Mothers in the area.

"It's the sacrifice of American motherhood," Hall said. "These are mothers who lost a son or daughter."

Hall was most intrigued by the special American flag that was used for the ceremony, flying at half-mast.

The flag had 48 stars and the stars were gold. Blair said the flag was one of many that the American Legion picks up from the Portales Hardware store that people drop off so members can properly dispose of them.

Blair said the flag belonged to Margarito C. Frausto, a private in the U.S. Army who was killed in action in July 1944. Frausto was of Hobbs.

"This is the flag that draped his casket," Blair said. "Further research revealed that some French workers made hand-stitched American casket flags with gold stars during World War II as a tribute to our Gold Star Mothers. We thought it appropriate to fly this flag today in memory of all the men and women who gave everything."

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