Veterans honored in ceremonies in Cortez and Mancos

Those who sacrificed honored during Memorial Day event

JIM MIMIAGA/The Journal

The Montezuma County VFW Post 5231 held a Memorial Day ceremony and rifle team salute at the Cedar Grove cemetery south of Mancos. Enlargephoto

JIM MIMIAGA/The Journal The Montezuma County VFW Post 5231 held a Memorial Day ceremony and rifle team salute at the Cedar Grove cemetery south of Mancos.

Military veterans were honored on Memorial Day with prayers, a flag ceremony and a hearty breakfast at the American Legion Ute Mountain Post 75 in Cortez.

“We put out 140 chairs, and they’re nearly all taken,” said incoming commander Scott Magness. “This is one of our better turnouts.”

After a rifle team salute and taps bugle call, Ute Mountain Rodeo royalty served up breakfast for donations.

“The money goes into an account to help local veterans,” said Carol Wilson, veterans and rehabilitation chairman.

Outgoing commander Marv Hermanns handed over the reins to Magness.

“It is an honor to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have honorably served this great country and are now deceased,” Hermanns said. “Let us strive to educate the younger generations about paying respect for those who have come before us, and may God bless and protect this wonderful country.”

U.S. Rep Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, returned to his district for events this weekend, including Saturday’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Silverton.

He’s supporting legislation to improve health and employment benefits for veterans.

“We want to make sure our veterans get what they were promised, that they have access to health care and job opportunities,” he said.

People should remember the sacrifices veterans have made for the nation, said Army veteran Marty Moore.

“One of the reasons we have such a great country are the sacrifices of those who served throughout our history,” he said.

Plenty of Vietnam and Korean war veterans showed up at the American Legion event, along with a few veterans of World War II. Veterans of more recent wars were harder to find.

“Our numbers are dwindling, so we’d like to get more veterans to join and get active,” Magness said. “Veterans have trouble asking for help, but we are here to help and offer camaraderie.”

Mancos honors the fallen“Like ceremonies across the nation, we too honor those who fell so we could live on,” said David Johnson, commander of the VFW Montezuma County Post 5231. “We are so grateful to them and the freedoms we have because of their sacrifices.”

Veterans and their families stood under sunny skies at the VFW Veterans Memorial in Cedar Grove cemetery, south of Mancos.

“It is a place to showcase a member of the family who is a veteran, and for the community to stop by and honor those that sacrificed.” said Wayne Noland, a VFW member.

The memorial includes bricks with the names of veterans, and the seals for each branch of the military. There are 160 names and room for 200 more. Bricks cost $100, and an application can be picked up at the Veterans Affairs office in Cortez.

Nearby, families showed sons and grandsons the graves of relatives who served, and placed flowers and flags.

Jody Blackmer was there with her mom, Charlene Dale. Every Memorial Day they visit local cemeteries to place flags on veteran graves.

“I do it because my grandmother used to take me every year when I was growing up, so now I carry on the tradition,” Blackmer said. “It is a way to love and honor the people who came before us.”

Ute Mountain Rodeo royalty serve up breakfast during a Memorial Day event at the American Legion in Cortez. Enlargephoto

Jim Mimiaga/The Journal

Ute Mountain Rodeo royalty serve up breakfast during a Memorial Day event at the American Legion in Cortez.

JIM MIMIAGA/The Journal

Jody Blackmer and her mom, Charlene Dale, visit the graves of family members who served in the military. They place flags at all the local cemeteries on Memorial Day as part of a family tradition. Enlargephoto

JIM MIMIAGA/The Journal Jody Blackmer and her mom, Charlene Dale, visit the graves of family members who served in the military. They place flags at all the local cemeteries on Memorial Day as part of a family tradition.

Veterans salute during a Memorial Day ceremony at the American Legion Ute Mountain Post 75 in Cortez Enlargephoto

Jim Mimiaga/The Journal

Veterans salute during a Memorial Day ceremony at the American Legion Ute Mountain Post 75 in Cortez