As in cemeteries and ceremonies all over the country, community members gathered throughout the region to remember fallen American warriors.
“We speak with one voice, with shared admiration,” said VFW Post Commander David Johnson at the ceremony in Cedar Grove Cemetery Monday.
Ceremonies were also held in the Cortez Cemetery, the Rico Cemetery, the Cortez American Legion Hall and the Dolores Community Center.
Johnson voiced a commitment to the crowd of about 50 people, gathered, not just to remember the heroes who paid the ultimate price, but to be determined to help veterans who may be homeless or struggling in other ways.
“We want to honor the dead, and we want to help the living,” he said.
The ceremony included a brief but poignant poem adapted to reflect the current needs of veterans.
“Men and women who have fought our wars are seeking their benefits to heal their scars,” read Bob Sanders, an Air Force veteran.
“Promises made are now forgotten,” he concluded.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently embroiled in a scandal over claims that patients may have died waiting for appointments at the VA hospital in Phoenix, the Associated Press reported earlier this month. At a Colorado VA hospital, employees were told to falsify records to make it seem as though patients were seeing the doctor within a timely window, the AP said.
The communities across the region remembered sacrifices of fallen troops in different ways. In Dolores, a wreath was placed in the Dolores River in honor of those lost at sea. The Cortez American Legion raised money at breakfast to help meet the needs of local veterans and their families.
The Mancos ceremony was attended by many local veterans, including Cortez resident Floyd Norris, a retired Navy Chief who served in the South Pacific during World War II and in Vietnam.
“It’s very important to honor vets and to honor some very close friends,” he said.
During Vietnam, he served in the South China Sea.
Johnson expressed his gratitude to Norris and all the experienced officers who served during Vietnam.
“They continue to serve, until they end their career, if for no other reason to look after young pups like me,” Johnson said about the officers who served with him in Vietnam.
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Sandra Valencia hopes Memorial Day serves to remind people of current conflict.
“It’s a good way to remember there are still people in harms way,” she said.