By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Fourteen-year-old Jonathan Derek Bennett enjoys hearing stories about his grandfather Earl Lamb’s service in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Among his favorites, Bennett said his grandfather smuggled a German Luger pistol in one of his boots and successfully passed multiple checkpoints before finally arriving in Carlsbad where he pawned the weapon for an engagement ring.
That was 64 years ago. Lamb, 87, said he tries to forget his own memories of war but he makes sure his family won’t forget what so many service men and women have risked and sacrificed for their nation on Veterans Day. The family marked the day at the American Legion’s 67th annual Veterans Day Program.
“If we honor them (veterans), it encourages other youth to join the service,” said Bennett.
The program, which took place at the Portales Memorial Building, featured speaker Lt. Col. Travis Norton, commander of the 3rd Special Operations Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, as the Veterans Day address speaker.
His words tied into what Lamb’s family represented — passing the message on the importance of service to future generations.
“It’s about those who make us better Americans,” Norton said, “those who make us a better country.”
Norton said Veterans Day is about more than honoring those who served, it’s about the future and the example that veterans set for youth.
He doesn’t like the word “serve” being used in its past tense either because he said those who served never stop serving.
“You continue to serve throughout the community,” Norton told the veterans in the audience. “Those who serve never truly stop that leadership.”
And Norton believes the actions of service speak louder than words and thanked the nation’s veterans for making better citizens and leading to make a better tomorrow.
Air Force veteran Harrie Black closed the program with his rendition of “Taps.” Black said he served 23 years in the Air Force and experienced the Korean War, Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam War.
Black said he had no regrets for his service and the amount of time he dedicated to the country.
“I was raised up on a Mississippi hillside cotton farm,” he said, “and it was a lot easier than picking cotton.”
During the program, Carleen Dew of Portales accepted a veteran flag on behalf of her husband Clyde Dew who died on Oct. 30. Dew said her husband served in World War II.
“I think this is wonderful that they all remember,” said Dew of Monday’s program. “It’s so easy to forget what they (veterans) did.”