Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
There is no shortage of events commemorating U.S. military veterans for the Portales area this week and into the weekend.
The American Legion Post 31 and the American Legion Auxilary Unit 31 members are sponsoring “A Tribute to Veterans” program beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Friday in the Memorial Building in Portales.
Joe Blair, commander of Post 31, has arranged to have Col. John Posner, Commander of the 27th Fighter Wing of Cannon Air Force Base, talk to the audience about the meaning of Veterans Day.
“It’s nice to have an active duty veteran give the address,” Blair said about Posner. “He can relate to what this program is about. Portales has a lot of veterans. Most Portales people are patriotic. They support veterans.”
Blair said there will be a special recognition of The Bataan Memorial Death March survivors who are from the area, such as Ervin Butler, Alvin Fails and John L. Johnson. According to Blair, there will also be a recognition for the widows of those who marched in the Bataan Death March like Cookie McGee, Rowena Pruitt, Irene Wall, Ila Jean McCormick and Joy Gardner.
There will be songs such as “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace” during the ceremony.
l On Friday, the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9515 are sponsoring a barbecue lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the VFW Post 9515 building at 316 S. Main St. The barbecue lunch is free for veterans and their family members.
• The Non-Traditional/Re-entry Student Services office members are hosting this year’s Veterans Day Appreciation program beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday at the Veterans Memorial statue on the north side of the Campus Union Building.
The members are in the process of establishing a “Wall of Honor” to recognize ENMU students and faculty who are veterans, currently on active duty, or reserves, according to Joe Lafuente. Lafuente, a 22-year veteran who served in the Navy, said they are gathering information from current and former students and faculty members to engrave the information onto bricks for a wall.
Riley is requesting information such as name, branch of service, years of service, college classification and major for the wall. People can contact Riley or Lafuente at 562-2434 or Esthela Banuelos at 562-2842. They will continue to receive information after this week from anyone who qualifies.
Lafuente said the office has already received more than 60 names.
“As a veteran, it’s nice,” Lafuente said of the recognition. “There’s been a lot of positive comments about it.”
Donald “Doc” Elder, an ENMU history professor, will be the featured speaker of the program. There will be presentations on Navajo code talkers, Hispanic veterans and African-American Buffalo Soldiers during the program.
• Saturday, the events continue with a fundraiser by the Collegiate Future Farmers of America and ENMU Pre-Professional/Graduate Student section of the New Mexico Association of Family and Consumer Sciences organizations in a joint venture with VFW members.
The fundraising event will take place at the VFW Building beginning with a steak and calf fry dinner at 5:30 p.m.
There will also be an auction and door prizes beginning at 5:30 p.m. and entertainment provided by the Fun Brothers Band. The band will take the stage at 8:30 p.m. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the VFW building, or from any member of collegiate FFA or PGS. Additionally, arrangement of ticket purchases can be accomplished by calling Tim Marsh at 760-4195 or Darron Smith at 562-2363.
Anyone can attend, however, those who plan to stay after 7:30 p.m. must have valid identification showing they are over the age of 21.
Marsh said all proceeds will be divided between the organizations.
“We’ve had a lot of support from Eastern (New Mexico University),” Marsh said. “It’s for everybody to enjoy. We’re (organizers) looking forward to it.”
Marsh said, at 3:30 p.m. today, VFW members will be placing miniature American flags on the grave sites of military veterans. He said if anybody wants to help, they can go to the Portales Cemetery at 3:30 p.m. He said there are more than 500 flags which need to be placed.
• Veterans can also enjoy a free meal at any one of the following schools, today: Brown Elementary, Steiner Elementary and Valencia Elementary. Lunches start after 10:30 a.m. Valencia Elementary school officials will also have a program for veterans beginning at 10 a.m.