Monte Vista salutes Veterans
Photos by Brian Williams Monte Vista celebrated Veterans on Friday, Nov. 10, with a parade downtown and ceremony at Faith Hinkley Veteran's Memorial Park. Veteran Steven Romero received the George Washington Badge of Merit Award. The Monte Vista Veterans parade was headlined by the Monte Vista High School Pirates Marching Band. A couple of hundred people lined the parade route and took photos and videos and waved as the cars, trucks and marching band made their way to the park. Following the parade, people moved to the bleachers in front of the Faith Hinkley Memorial for the 45-minute ceremony. Veteran Richard Nagley was the guest speaker. The Monte Vista Veterans ceremony concluded with the retiring of the colors by the Rio Grande County Color Guard.
Romero receives George Washington Badge of Merit Award
MONTE VISTA — Monte Vista held a Veterans Day Parade and recognized veteran Steve Romero with the second annual George Washington Badge of Merit award during a patriotic ceremony at Faith Hinkley Veterans Memorial Park on Friday, Nov. 10.
Instead of having the parade and ceremony on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, Monte Vista has been doing it on the Friday before the annual holiday.
U.S. Army Veteran Steven Romero received the local George Washington Badge of Merit Award, a plaque. Phillip Mackey explained that the award is now known as the Purple Heart Medal.
In May of 1969, Romero was sent to Fort Ord, Calif., for basic training before being shipped to Vietnam in October of that same year and spent time with the First Infantry Division. He was transferred to the 25th Infantry Division for the remainder of his tour. In September of 1970, he was sent to Fort Carson, Colo., and completed his tour of duty on May 7, 1971.
The parade was led by Monte Vista Police Department Chief George Dingfelder, Rio Grande County Sheriff Anne Robinson, and a representative of the Colorado State Patrol. The officers were followed closely by the Rio Grande County Color Guard.
A Colorado State Veterans Center at Homelake banner was carried by center preventatives including Pam Self, the Admissions and Marketing Director of the Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Home Lake. Some residents of the center followed in a small white bus.
The Monte Vista High School marching band played patriotic tunes on the parade route and was followed by a Monte Vista Coop tractor, truck and semi, and some antique cars.
A large American flag was raised by Monte Vista and Del Norte fire department ladder trucks near Bill Metz Elementary. The parade concluded with everyone marching under the flag and exiting near the memorial park.
Rio Grande County Commissioner Scott Deacon began the ceremony with a prayer. Veteran Richard Nagley was the main speaker of the ceremony.
The park is named after fallen hero, U.S. Army Sgt. Faith Hinkley and honors local veterans including U.S. Marine Sgt. Glen E. Martinez. Hinkley and Martinez family members were at the ceremony and laid wreaths at the bottom of the memorial stones for each.
Nagley, who is the president of the Veterans Coalition of the San Luis Valley, spoke of the history of Veterans Day, which was first proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson on Nov. 11, 1919, to commemorate the end of World War I. It was originally called Armistice Day. It celebrates all who have served in the U.S. military. He also noted that Nov. 10 was the 283rd birthday for the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Today we wish every Marine a happy birthday, as this is the day in 1775 the Continental Congress established the Continental Marine,” Nagley said. “We are also celebrating and recognizing Veterans Day, which is officially tomorrow, Nov. 11. In some ways it is a solemn recognition of time passed. Originally observed as Armistice Day, the 11th day of the 11th month marked the anniversary of the end of World War I and honored its fallen. As our country and much of the world mourned there remained a desperate glimmer of hope that the great war could be the war to end all wars, of course it was not. It was only 2 years ago, that we ended America’s longest war, the war in Afghanistan.
“Today, war clouds loom on the horizon. As war and conflict continue, so does the courage and sacrifice of men and women who defend our nation and its interest. Many paid the ultimate price,” he said.
Before concluding his speech, Nagley asked all the veterans to stand, and the crowd clapped for them.
“This Veterans Day lets celebrate what we can accomplish when we come together. Let’s recognize that service doesn’t end in the military and that thank you is just the beginning of gratitude. You being here today, tells me you are willing to go further. So please lend an ear to the Veterans in our community, and if you can work with the Valley Veterans service organizations to donate your time, efforts, and even financial support to those who have served.”