Monday’s breezes helped provide splashes of vivid color from the numerous flags flown for Memorial Day in honor of the fallen. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Los Alamos High School NJROTC cadets line up to give the opening salute Monday at Guaje Pines Cemetery. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Patriot Marie Todd of the American Legion Auxiliary at Monday’s Memorial Day Celebration. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Sporting the new Knights of Columbus uniform Monday at Guaje Pines is Ray Chavez, Faithful Comptroller and Color Commander of Knights of Columbus, Donald A. Larson Assembly, right, accompanied by Tina Chavez, center, and Nancy Kossar. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Los Alamos High School NJROTC cadets prepare to march on the colors Monday at Guaje Pines. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Anthony Puckett and David Puckett played ‘High Road to Gairlock’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ Monday at the Memorial Day Celebration. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.comKorean War veteran Paul Elkins and his wife, Sue, were among those who attended the Monday’s Memorial Day Celebration at Guaje Pines Cemetery. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
David Williams, chaplain of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks – Lodge #2083, left, and Lt. Col. Norm Wilson await the start of the Memorial Day Celebration Monday. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
American Legion Post 90 Cmdr. Dan Mack, far right, and Vernon Kerr watch the Memorial Day Celebration Monday at Guaje Pines. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts distribute programs and water Monday during the Memorial Day Celebration ‘Honoring the Fallen’ Monday at Guaje Pines Cemetery. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.comNew Mexico National Guard Col. Jamison Herrera, left, and Cmdr. Roger Anaya of Veterans of Foreign War Post 8874 look at the program for Monday’s Memorial Day Celebration at Guaje Pines Cemetery. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
New Mexico National Guard Col. Jamison Herrera told a large crowd gathered Monday at Guaje Pines Cemetery that the epitaph written on the tombstone of a fallen American warrior reads, “For your tomorrow we have our today”.
“It’s why it’s important this Memorial Day to reflect upon the ‘tomorrow’s left to us by thousands of brave and selfless service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting our nation’s wars,” Herrera said. “They fell in the jungles of the South Pacific and on the bloody beaches of Normandy; on the icy slopes of the Korean Peninsula and in the rice paddies of Vietnam; on the mountains and in the caves of Afghanistan, and on the sands of Iraq.”
He said Memorial Day is the one day each year set aside to remember those who Abraham Lincoln observed gave “the last, full measure of devotion”.
“We’re here today because of them.” he said.
Herrera said Memorial Day was firstt observed in the wake of the Civil War, where local communities organized tributes around the gravesites of fallen soldiers. He said the observation was originally called Decoration Day because the graves were adorned with flowers. It was held May 30 because that date wasn’t the anniversary for any battle in particular and all soldiers could be honored, he said, adding that the date was recognized by northern states, with southern states choosing different days.
Herrera said after World War I, the day shifted from remembering the fallen in the Civil War to those who had perished in all of America’s conflicts and that it gradually became known as Memorial Day and was declared a federal holiday and moved to the last Monday in May to organize a three-day weekend beginning in 1971.
“Seeking to understand the duties of today’s service members is a way to honor all those who have served and those who continue to serve. Today’s Armed Forces are dedicated to fighting America’s wars, protecting our homeland during crises and disasters, and building global partnerships that ensure the security of our nation,” Herrera said. “As I speak, service members are on the front lines defending America and the free world from the enemies of freedom. Let us remember all those deployed today. They are far from home, but close to our hearts. Let us salute them and wish for their safe return.”
He said the reality we face today, is, after 18 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 7,000 U.S. servicemembers have been killed and another 53,000 wounded.
“It’s important that we pause to reflect upon these sacrifices. We must remember the families they left behind, and the losses suffered by friends, employers, neighbors, and their extended community. Their loss, and the legacy of freedom they left behind, allows us to enjoy days like today. But most importantly – let us make Memorial Day every day by never failing to honor the men and women who gave their all.,” Herrera said. “Their courage in the face of certain death will shine like a beacon on future generations through times of danger and uncertainty. Their sacrifice will serve as the staunchest of warnings to our enemies – that we shall never abandon the cause of liberty”.
“This Memorial Day, as we spend time with family and friends, please reflect upon the legacy left to us by all the brave men and women of our nation’s Armed Forces. by honoring our fallen warriors,” he said. “We honor their legacy of ensuring democracy, freedom, equality, and lasting peace prevails. it is our duty to continue moving forward to maintain the cause of freedom.”
“The New Mexico National Guard motto and response serves as a constant reminder to us all and honors those who have come before us by saying legacy of honor, and the answer to that call is ‘siempre adelante!’. On behalf of a grateful nation, we salute them and pledge to never forget. Thank you for joining me today to honor all those who gave up their ‘today’ so that we could have a ‘tomorrow’. Legacy of honor! Siempre adelante!” Colonel Herrera concluded.
Col. Jamison Herrera is a native of New Mexico. He enlisted in 1989 as a member of the 515th Maintenance Battalion in Santa Fe and went on to receive his commission through Officer Candidate School. He is currently employed as a dual status technician for the New Mexico National Guard as Director of the Joint Staff and is currently assigned as Commander of the 111th Sustainment Brigade.
Colonel Herrera holds a Bachelor degree in University Studies with an emphasis in education from the University of New Mexico and a Masters of Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College. He and his wife, Ellen, have two sons, Jason, 19 and Nick, 16.
Father John Daniel, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, gives the invocation Monday during the Memorial Day Celebration. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.
Participating in the Memorial Day Celebration Monday are, from right, Los Alamos Councilor James Robinson, Los Alamos County Council Chair Sara Scott, Col Jamison Herrera and Father John Daniel, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. Robinson read the state proclamation on behalf of Rep. Christine Chandler and Scott read the County proclamation. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Local Boy Scout Troops assisted with the ceremony Monday at Guaje Pines. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Flags blow in the breeze during Monday’s Memorial Day Celebration. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
A large crowd awaits the start of Monday’s Memorial Day Celebration at Guaje Pines Cemetery. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Alicia Solomon sings ‘America the Beautiful’ bringing a tear to many an eye Monday at Guaje Pines Cemetery. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Col. Norm Wilson and Barbara Wilson place a wreath Monday at Guaje Pines Cemetery. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Cadets from the U.S. Naval Academy were among those who attended the Memorial Day Celebration Monday at Guaje Pines Cemetery. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
New Mexico National Guard Col. Jamison Herrera gives his address Monday during the Memorial Day Celebration at Guaje Pines Cemetery. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com