By Gary Mitchell and Darrell Todd Maurina
Joe Blair, commander of Portales American Legion Post 31, says many people have forgotten the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
“Memorial Day is for deceased loved ones, Veterans Day is for the living veterans,” Blair said. “Memorial Day was actually established in 1868 to honor Civil War deceased veterans, and we hand that information out with our program.”
Portales observes Memorial Day with two separate ceremonies, one by the American Legion at 10:30 a.m. Monday and an earlier ceremony by the United Daughters of the Confederacy at 9 a.m.
Both are at Portales’ cemetery.
“We have a UDC circle where there are quite a few Confederate veterans buried and they hold a ceremony for them,” Blair said. “I participate in that too, and we hold the ceremonies at different times so they don’t conflict.”
In addition, Portales Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9515 puts flags on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day.
The 10:30 a.m. ceremony will run for about an hour with Rev. Farrell Odom as its speaker and a color guard from Cannon Air Force Base. Portales will also honor its two “Gold Star Mothers” — women who lost children in war.
Area events are also being held in Clovis and Melrose,
The Melrose event, sponsored by the Melrose Chamber of Commerce, will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday rather than on Memorial Day. Rev. Danny Sanders of First United Methodist Church will speak at the event in Melrose Cemetery.
The Clovis ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the Mission Garden of Memories, 2900 W. Seventh St.
The day has a significance that local veteran Larry Frappier and his colleagues want to make sure the nation doesn’t forget.
“It’s a day you’re honoring your fallen comrades,” said Frappier, who serves as secretary for the Joint Veterans Council in Clovis, the sponsor of the community’s annual Memorial Day Observance. “It’s always on Memorial Day. We put on a nice ceremony, and it’s usually well-attended.”
“We’ve done this every year as long as I’ve been a part of the Joint Veterans Council,” said LeeAnn Lam, event chairman for the JVC. “We do it to pay honor to veterans — those living and those deceased. Ceremonies like this will be done all across the nation.”
In Muleshoe, the Bailey County Cemetery Association will conduct its annual Memorial Day service at the cemetery at 10 a.m. (CDT) Monday.
The Boy Scouts will initiate the ceremony with a flag raising and pledge of allegiance, followed by messages from local veterans and songs to honor those who have served and currently serve in the armed forces, according to organizers.