NM Adjutant General Andrew Salas; Mary Cox, USN – Vietnam; Priscilla Rae Mares, USN – Vietnam; David Townsend, USA – WWII; Andres Gonzales, USA – WWII; General Miles, NMNG Adjutant General (WWII-era/non-combat); Don Reid, USA – Vietnam (there to escort Gen. Miles to the front); Tomas Begay, USMC – WWII (Code Talker) and NMDVS Secretary Timothy Hale. Courtesy/NMDVSMA
Paul Romero, USA – WWII, he was unable to walk to the podium and took his standing ovaation from his seat in the crowd. Courtesy/NMDVSMA
SANTA FE—Veterans, active-duty service members and veterans service organizations were in the spotlight at the State Capitol Monday for Military & Veterans’ Day at the Legislature.
The annual day during the Legislature is presented by the New Mexico Departments of Veterans’ Services and Military Affairs to honor New Mexico’s military community. New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Timothy Hale and New Mexico National Guard Adjutant Gen. Andrew Salas honored the service of New Mexico’s military community, thanking them for defending the freedoms Americans enjoy today.
“The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, past and present, has allowed Americans the freedom to live as we choose,” Salas said at the beginning of a special noon ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. “I want to thank you for the service and sacrifice you have endured in protecting me, my family, and all Americans.”
This year’s theme was ”Honoring Our Veterans’ Service Organization Partnerships.” NMDVS Secretary Hale thanked the numerous federal, state and community partnerships for being part of a strong coordinated service effort. He spoke on behalf of scheduled speaker Gov. Susana Martinez, who was unable to attend due to a last-minute scheduling conflict.
During the Secretary’s remarks, he singled out The Albuquerque YWCA Henderson House, the Albuquerque-based New Mexico Veterans’ Integration Center and the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope in Las Cruces for their work in dealing with veteran homelessness.
“In life, there are groups that I like to call ‘thermometers’ and ‘thermostats.’ Thermometers simply take a temperature, and merely report the result,” Hale said. “These three agencies do more than just take temperatures. Whereas a thermometer simply measures the status–either hot or cold–a good thermostat analyzes that temperature, and then seeks to change and correct it. These organizations seek change.”
During the ceremony, the oldest veterans in attendance were asked to stand and come to the podium to be thanked for their service. Given a standing ovation were: Mary Cox and Priscilla Rae Mares—two U.S. Navy veterans who served during the Vietnam War and were recognized as the two oldest women veterans in the crowd. Joining them were five WWII-era veterans: former New Mexico Adjutant General Franklin Miles, David Townsend (Army), Andres Gonzales (Army), Paul Romero (Army) and U.S. Marine/former Code Talker Thomas Begay. All seven received an enthusiastic standing ovation for the packed Rotunda crowd.
Also honored in the ceremony were the 21 of New Mexico’s 112 legislators who are veterans. Asked to stand to be recognized and thanked with applause were four state senators: Craig Brandt, John Pinto, William Payne and William Sharer.
The 16 members of the House of Representative were: Eliseo Alcon, Thomas Anderson, Don Bratton, Ernest Chavez, Sharon Clahchischilliage, Nathan Cote, George Dodge, Jimmie Hall, Larry Larrañaga, Rodolfo Martinez, Rick Miera, Henry “Kiki” Saavedra, Nick Salazar, Edward Sandoval, Luciano “Lucky” Varela, James White and Bob Wooley.