Veterans recognized in parade, luncheon in Sheep Springs

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Tsé Alnaozt'i'í Chapter residents Elton Brown, Jacey Brown and Elouise Brown, from left, stand for the national anthem during the Veterans Day event on Monday at the Tooh Haltsooí Chapter house in Sheep Springs.

SHEEP SPRINGS — Benifier and Myron Garcia worked against the high wind to tape a Marine Corps banner to their truck before the start of the Veterans Day parade here on Monday.

Garcia said she was participating to honor her late father-in-law, Marcus R. Garcia, and her late brother, Anthony J. Allen, both of whom served in the U.S. Marines.

She was also recognizing her uncles, Johnny Allen, a U.S. Army veteran, and James Funstone, a U.S. Air Force veteran.

"It helps me recognize who – not just my family – but other veterans as well and to be thankful for them for serving," Garcia said of her reason for participating.

Members of the Tooh Haltsooí Veterans Organization carry flags in the Veterans Day parade on Monday in Sheep Springs.

The cold temperatures, high winds and snow did not put a damper on participation by five members of the Tooh Haltsooí Veterans Organization, who marched south on the frontage road near U.S. Highway 491 to the chapter house.

Emerson Watchman, an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War, stands for a prayer during the Veterans Day event on Monday at the Tooh Haltsooí Chapter house in Sheep Springs.

Jared Yazzie is commander for the organization, which worked with the chapter administration to organize the parade and luncheon.

Yazzie said the event recognizes the veterans who reside in the community, a number that is approximately 85.

"It's heartwarming. …For people to come and get together, it's a reminder that I didn't go to war for nothing," he said adding that he served eight years in the Marines and completed tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Arlene Tsosie of Fish Point, Arizona, has two brothers who are Air Force veterans. She spoke at the event about her family's military service and about a friendship she developed with a World War II veteran.

The friendship started when Tsosie was going to school at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, where she met Johnson John, a veteran from Chinle, Arizona.

John died in May, Tsosie said, adding that she treasures his stories about serving as a paratrooper in Germany.

"I see that you really appreciate your veterans here," she said about the event.

"Thank you very much for all you have done," Tsosie said to the veterans in attendance.

Bessie Tsosie, Mary Attakai Tsosie and Arlene Tsosie, from left, sing "Amazing Grace" in the Navajo language at the Veterans Day event on Monday at the Tooh Haltsooí Chapter house in Sheep Springs.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazah Crotty said because veterans gave their lives to serve and protect, it allows the community to have the freedom to speak out and share opinions.

Crotty, who represents seven chapters including Tooh Haltsooí, said she reminds tribal council members to use dignity when talking about veterans issues.

She said among the services needed for veterans on the Navajo Nation are those that address mental health, and there is a proposal to establish such services in Sheep Springs.

Benifier Garcia and Myron Garcia decorate their truck before the start of the Veterans Day parade on Monday in Sheep Springs.

Crotty also asked the veterans to continue their service by helping keep the community safe.

"We put out our prayers for you every morning, to make sure you are safe, that you get healing and get that respect," she said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

Johnny Allen, Rex Allen Sr., Jared Yazzie, Tommy L. Sandman and Albert Manuelito, from left, march in the Veterans Day parade on Monday in Sheep Springs.