Thursday, September 23, 2010

515th Gets Warm Welcome

By Gary Jaramillo
Sunday was a great day to be out at the Socorro Plaza enjoying and participating in the big celebration welcoming the 515th National Guard Troops back home, safe and sound.
A large crowd attended and cheered as the 515th marched into the plaza led by the color guard, Lt. Colonel Anthony Leal, Sergeant Major Albert Sanchez and Staff Sergeant Melissa Kaff as the band played patriotic songs from the Plaza Gazebo.
After coming to rest in front of the Ceremonial Gazebo, one of their own, Captain Michael Calhoon led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance and then sang the National Anthem followed by Chaplain Phil Preston reciting the opening prayers.
Congressman Harold Teague and Socorro’s Mayor addressed the 515th troops and welcomed them home and thanked them for their bravery and service to their country. Staff Sergeant Melissa Kaff then read a letter to Socorroans that she had written for the ceremony. Her letter is as follows:
My guess is man has been waging war since before he emerged from the cave. There is lots to say on why nations go to war and even more on the men who send boys out to do the fighting. We could even discuss these topics in great depth, but in the end, any conclusions would not matter.
Wars will still be fought and soldiers will still die.
One might ask, why then do soldiers willingly stay in wars? Why are they will to die or watch their brothers in arms die if another war is almost inevitable for the next generation? Why don’t they just walk away? I believe there are two reasons. First, we fight for each other. That is what makes us brothers in arms. We would willingly die to keep the other alive. Second, for home. We fight for our mothers’ cooking, the local little leagues, and our favorite cashiers at the grocery store. We fight with the faith that our sacrifice will help preserve the way of life for out loved ones back home.
Now I am a bit of a nomad and I don’t have a hometown per se, but I didn’t need one because I had Socorro. I fought for the gas station I stop at every time I travel 25. For the nurses and doctors who have treated my troops at Socorro General Hospital. The receptionist at the Econo Lodge. For the person who bought my dinner at K-Bobs’, the gentlemen who bought our pizza at Pizza Hut, and the family that bought my lunch at the Chinese Buffet. I fought for all the clubs and children who sent us Christmas Cards and for California Street with all it’s people that lined up to welcome us home.
I wish there was something I could give each and every person that supported me, that became my reason, my home. Some token you could gaze upon every now and again and get the same flush of pride I get when I think of Socorro. But I can’t. All I can give is my thanks, and I do. Thank you, each and every one of you, and God Bless.
Following the ceremony, everyone was invited by Master of Ceremonies, veteran and city councilor Peter Romero to line up behind the returning troops of the 515th at the chow line and enjoy the great meal and drinks that were provided for everyone at the event.
It was a festive atmosphere with lots of hugs and thanks for our troops by everyone at the plaza. Marachi music and vocals echoed throughout the plaza and dancing was enjoyed by everyone. Photos and videos were being taken by everyone in attendance, and congratulations and laughter could be heard in every corner of our Socorro Plaza.
The day before on Saturday, Socorroans gathered to remember those lost in the 911 attack on the Twin Towers in New York City in 2001.
Those in attendance were invited by D.A.V. Master of Ceremonies Peter Romero to come up and give thanks to our local first responders, fire fighters and law enforcement agencies, or make a comment on those lost on that fateful day. The memorial was set in the late afternoon on our plaza as the sun slowly began to dip behind the M Mountain. It was surely a beautiful day to remember those who perished on September 11th almost a decade ago, and it was a very nice tribute to those who are still making sacrifices for all of us in emergency services and first responder departments in Socorro, New Mexico and across the United States.

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