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Gone but not forgotten: How Pahrump marked Memorial Day

Military service requires many sacrifices and Memorial Day is a time to honor the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, paying for America’s freedom with their lives.

To mark the solemn occasion, three local organizations hosted Memorial Day ceremonies, with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #10054 celebrating at its venue while the Disabled American Veterans Chapter #15 and the Pahrump Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee both opted to utilize the Veterans’ Memorial site for their commemorations.

VFW installs new POW/MIA/KIA flag

Kicking off its observance of the holiday at 10 a.m., VFW officials welcomed a crowd of area residents for a ceremony that included a very special feature this year - the installation of a brand new, updated flag.

Prior to Memorial Day, the American Flag and the well-known black and white POW/MIA flag - honoring those who are prisoners of war or missing in action - have both proudly flown above the post. Now, that black and white flag has been replaced by one emblazoned with the phrase “All Gave Some, Some Gave All” with reverence given to POW/MIA as well as KIA, those killed in action.

VFW member Chris Miller took to the microphone to provide an overview of why the new flag design had been chosen.

“As we’re moving into a kind of new phase, where we don’t have too many prisoners of war anymore, where we don’t have too many missing in action anymore, we’ve decided to make a turn and not only include the POW/MIAs but also our killed in action brethren, as well as those who have come home but haven’t really come home,” a visibly emotional Miller explained.

“This flag really stands as an invitation to all the people who drive by who can identify with all of this, and it says ‘Come in, you are welcome and your service is service that is valued by the people who keep this building standing up’,” Miller continued. “At this post, we want to make sure we let all veterans know that not only do you have a seat at our table, you belong at our table. If you can’t find camaraderie somewhere else and you’re going through it, the folks that are at this post are here for you.”

The flags were then swapped out, after which remarks were offered from post commander Steven Kennard, who invited all to enjoy the Memorial Day barbecue and the formal Flag Retirement ceremony that were set to follow.

Inaugural ceremony for advisory committee

This was the very first year for the Pahrump Veterans Advisory Committee’s Memorial Day Ceremony, which also took place at 10 a.m. but at the Veterans’ Memorial inside the Chief Tecopa Cemetery.

Advisory committee secretary Alice Lubbers told the Pahrump Valley Times that the committee was pleased with their efforts, which brought together members of the military and law enforcement communities, along with area civilians, for a morning of somber remembrance.

“The Pahrump Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee hosted our first Memorial Day Ceremony featuring both military veterans and the Nye County Sheriff’s Office,” Lubbers detailed. “Bruce Cox, veterans advisory committee chairman, represented the military and Sheriff Joe McGill represented our men and women in blue.

“The program successfully blended both personnel with the playing of “Taps” by Army veteran Stephen Hall and the singing of the national anthem by deputy Greg Curtin,” Lubbers continued. “The ceremony was further interwoven with the military Dog Tag Ceremony conducted by military veterans and the sheriff’s officers leading the wreath placement ceremony. The event concluded with Lee Greenwood’s ‘Proud to be an American’ song, which blended military, police and the public as one great community and country.”

DAV hosts Memorial Day service

The evening of Memorial Day then drew residents back to the Veterans’ Memorial for the final ceremony of the day, conducted by the DAV.

A couple of last-minute changes to this group’s program were necessary, with DAV Commander Bill Dolan unfortunately ill and guest speaker Fred Wagar, director of the Nevada Dept. of Veterans Services, unable to attend. However, Dr. Tom Waters took the helm as emcee in Dolan’s stead and two ceremony attendees stepped up as speakers, Navy veteran Susan Moore and Air Force veteran Baron Samuel, who offered the opening and closing prayers as well.

There was also a reading of “The Quiet Time”, a poem that underscores the real meaning of Memorial Day, which was written by DAV member Stephen Pitman and recited by Chad Lemons.

“‘This is not a time for joy and parties and festivities. I do not want to hear about special sales and deals this weekend only. It is a time for reflection, to honor, to remember, to grieve,” Lemons intoned. “We who remain feel loss, anguish, sorrow, emptiness, guilt. These feelings do not diminish with time. If anything, they overwhelm us at this time of year.’”

The poem goes on to express the challenges veterans face each and every day to put on a brave face and pretend to show constant strength. That challenge often becomes too much to overcome on occasions such as Memorial Day and the poem concluded with, “No, I will not celebrate on Memorial Day. This is the quiet time.”

The DAV’s ceremony incorporated many of the same elements as the advisory committee’s had, with both the placement of dog tags and a wreath ceremony featured. Another element of the event was the always moving POW/MIA ceremony and the observance came to a close with the playing of “Taps.”

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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