Missing word in ‘Bless USA’ sign causes concern

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Whether folks are religious or not, some people in Las Vegas feel there is a word missing from a sign now hanging over a New Mexico main street – a word that almost always starts a phrase written on the sign.

The sign that welcomes people heading to the Fourth of July Fiestas on the historic Bridge Street in Las Vegas says, “Bless the USA.”

“To me, the sign is incomplete. ‘Bless the USA,’ of course, but for me, it would be, ‘God Bless the USA,’ ” said Ben Sanchez, who works near the sign in Las Vegas.

“The USA, America — it’s about God. ‘In God we trust,’ ” said Irinea Valdez.

Margaret Smith doesn’t have such an issue with the sign.

“I do believe in God so, ‘God Bless the USA,’ would be great,” she said, “but I’m just happy they put something up there.”

The sign went up last week.

Event planner Annette Velarde said the committee organizing the Independence Day event was just trying to be inclusive and that it never meant to offend anyone.

“This year the focus and the theme is on family,” Velarde said. “So it’s all families, peoples of all faith.”

Velarde said the committee, made up of mostly city workers and some community volunteers, has been planning these festivities since the start of the year.

The celebration starts Thursday and continues into the weekend. The sign was supposed to be a nice, new addition.

Velarde said, for now, it will stay up, but the city has been listening to people’s concerns and may re-think it for next year.

“People have different opinions,” Velarde said. “People have different faiths and that’s one of the great things about where we live is that you can voice your opinion and you should.”

While the city said it left the word, “God,” off the sign to avoid offending non-believers and supporters of the separation of church and state, a mass is part of the Fourth of July fiesta Friday evening.

The city said the mass is a fiesta tradition that goes back more than 100 years.

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