San Juan County events honors veterans, military

In honor of Veterans Day, more than 1,000 flags were placed on the graves of veterans at Memory Gardens Cemetery

Noel Lyn Smith
Bodie Rector, 3, and Mary Price place a carnation at a gravesite during a ceremony honoring veterans on Friday at Memory Gardens Cemetery in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Surrounded by American flags that dotted the grass, approximately 30 people recognized and paid tribute to veterans in a ceremony today at Memory Gardens Cemetery.

It was among the events held in honor of Veterans Day in San Juan County, and the ceremony was organized by the Desert Gold Chapter of the Daughters of the National Society of the American Revolution.

More than 1,000 flags were placed on the graves of veterans by members of the Desert Gold Chapter and Farmington High School students.

In her welcome address, Desert Gold Chapter member Diane Halvorson called on those in attendance to take the responsibility of honoring veterans, including those who are still alive and those who passed.

"Today and every day, we have opportunities to show our appreciation for all that has been done for us," Halvorson said.

She added that appreciation can be show by simple gestures such as serving a meal, providing transportation, sending cards or letters, or placing a flag on a headstone.

"These simple acts of kindness show we care about our veterans and military personnel, and we respect what they have done for us," Halvorson said.

Later in the program, she read a letter from U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M. Luján's letter praised veterans, as well as focusing on the need to address problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs. It also emphasized the importance of helping veterans when they return home.

"From job training to incentives to hire veterans, we must invest in the men and women who served with distinction and have what it takes to be business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders in our community," Luján wrote.

Martha Roberts, junior chair of the Desert Gold Chapter, explained her reason for playing the song "American Soldier" by country artist Toby Keith at the event.

"I urge you to listen to the words and think of all the veterans that we have that are still living that we can say, 'Thank you,'" Roberts said.

She urged listeners to remember those who have died and to quietly thank them.

Elaine Bakkenson leads the Lord's Prayer at a ceremony honoring veterans that was organized by the Desert Gold Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on Friday at Memory Gardens Cemetery in Farmington.

During the ceremony, members placed a white wreath with red roses and blue flowers next to the monument that displays the seals of the military branches.

Bloomfield resident Don Tucker is a Korean War veteran who served in the Navy from 1952 to 1960.

"Veterans Day means to me the honoring of those who sacrificed their lives, their limbs for the security of the United States and for the country in which they were fighting to preserve their freedom," the 83-year-old said.

Tucker attended the event because it was an outlet to honor the veterans who lost their lives while serving the country and "to let them know we haven't forgotten them."

Piñon Hills Dental employees Denyse Rector and Mary Price also placed carnations on veterans' graves. Rector explained the employees of the dental practice have adopted the Hustle Kindness movement, and the action was their random act of kindness. They also distributed Starbucks gift cards to veterans who attended the event.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.