ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Across New Mexico on Wednesday, veterans are being honored.
Veterans Memorial Park
The city hosted a ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Park on Louisiana. That’s where many dignitaries and veterans met after Wednesday’s parade to honor those who put their lives on the line for our country.
One of the keynote speakers was a Korean War veteran who received a Medal of Honor.
The veteran’s parade started at Bullhead Memorial Park and made its way to the Memorial Park on Louisiana. Men and women in uniform lead the parade, carrying our nation’s colors. They were followed by a military convoy and civilian floats.
“It’s the time they spend away from their families. It’s the years that they are willing to give up for their country, for their love of country,” said Fred Lopez, a U.S. Army vet who served three years in the sixties.
National Hispanic Cultural Center
There are also some sculptures that will be dedicated to Hispanic veterans at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Wednesday. The Manuel Mora and Pete Padilla Memorial Park has been a long time coming.
“When they died, I died a little bit, but we had to bring back their memories,” said Desi Baca, former principal who represented the Mora family.
“My feeling is that my brother is finally home in the place he grew up,” said David Padilla. “It’s been a long time coming, and I think the family finally got closure in this. It’s a relief,” Padilla added.
For years, there was a park honoring marine veterans in Barelas, but it was bulldozed to make way for the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Families and the city reached an agreement and found money for two new statues. The center is hosting Veterans Day programs throughout the week.
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
There was also a moving tribute to veterans at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque Wednesday, including flag raisings, music and veterans sharing their experiences from their time in the service.
One Vietnam Veteran said, “If there’s one thing that I’ve really gotten to learn and appreciate, is to live every day to its fullest.”
Former Taos Pueblo Governor and Bataan Death March Survivor Tony Reyna was also honored for his service to the U.S. and his people. At 99-years-old he has lived to serve others and he says his work still is not done.
“It’s a privilege, and I want to continue to be helpful,” said Reyna.
A sentiment his family says he’s never given up.
“He’s been a good example of how to live a life of service and forgiveness, so we can’t be happier with all of the people who came to honor not only him but all of the veterans,” said his daughter, Diane Reyna.
Officials at the Indian Pueblo Cultural center say Veterans Day is especially important there because during WWII Native Americans served at a higher rate than any other group, at a time when some were not even allowed to vote in many states.