Veteran’s Memorial Park was again the setting for Mesquite’s annual Memorial Day ceremony. The event, which has become a city tradition, was even larger than last year. Master of ceremonies, Viet Nam veteran and Mayor Al Litman, told the crowd “At our ceremony eight years ago, there were only 20 people here. Look at the people today.” There were over 100 people at the event this year.
The program featured music by the Sun City Sounds who sang and played three selections starting with Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”
Keynote speakers were Charles Navarro representing Congressman Crescent Hardy, Assemblyman and retired Navy Commander Chris Edwards and retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Barbara Ellestad (MLN editor).
Navarro, a former Petty Officer in the Navy, introduced a new employee of the congressman, John Taing, who is a Marine Corps veteran, wounded warrior fellow and veteran of Iraq. Taing will be assisting veterans in the congressman’s office.
Edwards honored all the branches of the military for their service, in particular the National Guard. Edwards told the crowd “About 9,000 miles away we have the 377th battalion of the Nevada National Guard deployed to the Middle East.” Edwards said that in the war on terror alone, fifty-seven Nevadans have died.
“Since our all volunteer forces started some 40 years ago, our nation has relied on the National Guard to be in every conflict. In recent memory, we have deployed the Nevada guard four times to serve overseas in hostile locations,” said Edwards.
Edwards then urged veterans to write their stories down so they are not lost to history saying, “I want to encourage every veteran here today to tell their story to their family.”
Ellestad told the crowd “Some people have called for closure of our past wars, but in the last 46 years that word closure has not existed for me, nor do I want it to.” Ellestad then spoke of her brother who died in Viet Nam.
“To me closure means remembering our heroes only on certain days. I think we should think about them every day. The sacrifices they made warrants that,” said Ellestad. She then said 46 years after her brother’s death, the Ohio state legislature had recently named a section of highway in front of her family homestead after her brother and it was only possible because people in the local community did not accept “closure.”
She concluded “Every day that people travel that portion of the highway they will have an opportunity to appreciate all of our fallen heroes, not just my brother. It’s your brother, your sister, your father, and your mother or perhaps someone you never knew. So as you enjoy this Memorial Day weekend, take a second, take a minute to forget the word closure and dwell on the reason you are able to enjoy this holiday. It’s not closure our heroes deserve, it’s your honor.”
The program concluded with music from the Sun City Sounds and the playing of taps.