Carlsbad Event: 9:30 a.m. Parade from Carlsbad Municipal Schools administration building to Carlsbad Veterans Memorial Park. Veterans Day ceremony to follow.
While we can never repay the debt we owe to the men and women who put themselves at risk to protect our freedoms, we can and should pledge to make certain our children and grandchildren understand why Veterans Day and other forms of recognition are so important.
At our Veteran’s Day ceremony in 2020, we introduced the new Huey Helicopter to the Carlsbad Veterans Memorial Park. A community-wide effort made the purchase and installation of this helicopter possible, and we have been pleased to learn that Vietnam-era veterans from around the area have made a special trip to Carlsbad to see this Huey.
For 2021, thanks to a series of remarkable coincidences, we’re honored to have Dennis Bankson, who piloted the very same Vietnam-era Huey that was put on display at our park last year, as our guest speaker during our Veterans Day ceremony. Joining Bankson will be Tim Messett, who piloted another helicopter in the same area during the Vietnam War. Our community looks forward to welcoming Bankson, Messett and their families with open arms and thanking them for their service.
Of course, recognition of our veterans must be much more than a once a year activity.
In the spring, Carlsbad held its first “Spirit of Carlsbad’ awards ceremony. We received numerous nominations for Citizen of the Year- but our committee gave the honor to a resident named Norbert Rempe. Norbert volunteers his time taking veterans who are unable to drive to the VA hospital in Albuquerque.
Also this spring, the Eddy County Patriotic Society hosted a Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony. Sheriff Mark Cage and Magistrate Judge D’Ann Read were the event’s two guest speakers, and both did an excellent job paying tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Our Independence Day celebration this summer included a very special ceremony in recognition of our World War II veterans. We were incredibly honored to have seven local WW2 veterans join us at our ceremony. Governor Susana Martinez assisted with providing plaques to these wonderful individuals. One of our recipients at the ceremony, Ed Dunagan, recently celebrated his 102nd birthday.
This year, Carlsbad was also honored to participate in a memorial service honoring the 20th anniversary of the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. At this ceremony, we honored our police officers, firefighters and the members of our military – for being the ones who run towards, not away, from dangers and threats. The ceremony this year took place just a few days after the tragic loss of 13 soldiers in Afghanistan. We reminded those in attendance that day that the citizens of Carlsbad and Eddy County will never forget the dedication and sacrifice of those who have served in the armed forces.
Next year, we will celebrate a ribbon cutting for our new Senior Center in Carlsbad. This new center will be named after Alejandro Ruiz, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman. On April 28, 1945, Ruiz’s unit was pinned down by machine gun fire. He charged the pillbox and was able to neutralize the risk, saving numerous lives of his fellow United States soldiers.
These ceremonies are important because they serve as an important reminder, but they do not come close to meeting our debt of gratitude to our veterans. We must also commit ourselves throughout the year to ensure that our veterans have the resources they have more than earned in terms of pursuing job opportunities, health care, residential opportunities and behavioral health care.
The residents of our community well understand the debt we have to our veterans, and the vital role they have played toward preserving and protecting our freedoms- and we will never forget.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway