The following is a contribution and news release from Kathleen Tomlin
Veterans Day 2022 started out crisp and chilly as many dedicated volunteers hung the Las Animas/McClave/Hasty Avenue of Flags – Bent County is patriotic strong! Thanks Barb Martin, Senior Vice President, VFW Auxiliary #2411, for organizing the group in record time! A special thanks to Fort Lyon veterans and friends for helping and driving volunteers. Pam Valdez, Past District VFW District #6 President, organized a very meaningful Veterans Day Program at the Community Center, recognizing and honoring women veterans. Approximately 65 veterans of all ages, wars, and conflicts attended along with spouses and families; veteran supporters, and students. The American Legion, Arkansas Valley Hospice, VFW Post and Carlos Torres, Rick Ward, Bent County Veteran Service Officer, had tables with information helpful for Veterans. VFW Aux programs were also represented: Buddy Poppies, membership information, Wreaths Across America applications, Avenue of Flag donation jar, and a Missing Man Table set up by Sandy Milenski, Auxiliary Treasurer.
VFW Aux Post #2411 President Kathleen Tomlin began the ceremony at 11:00 a.m. with the posting of the Colors by the LAHS Student Council students. Kathleen led the Pledge of Allegiance. Ron Losey sang the National Anthem. Rev. Dennis McDaniel, Calvary Church, provided a moving invocation. Kathleen Tomlin welcomed everyone attending and shared the order of service. Pam told the History of Veterans Day and read a poem “Remember, It is a Veteran.” Ron Losey and his band sang a heart-rending song, “Freedom Ain’t Free” by Creed Fisher. Pam explained the Stars for the Troops program. A non-profit group that started in 2010, in Troy, NY, that provided embroidered stars cut from a retired Flag and placed in small baggy with a card that reads, “I am part of the American Flag that you serve. I have proudly represented the U.S.A. I can no longer fly. The sun and storms have caused me to become tattered and torn. Treasure me near you heart as a reminder that you are loved and not forgotten,” and were given to an honor flight to D.C. with WWII veterans and their guardians. When each branch song was played over the sound system provided by Lynette Wolfe, the associated flag was marched in by a LAHS Student Council Student and each veteran stood for their branch song. Each Veteran was then given a Star, a Buddy Poppy, a gift bag donated by Frieda Alvarez and a pen from Ark Valley Hospice, cards of “Thanks” from local LAES students and then personally thanked for their service. Rick Ward, VSO, updated veterans on the PACT Act and warned of fraudulent claims. Cathy Moore, Quilt of Valor Representative from Prairie Quilters of Haswell, CO, explained the origin of the QOV Program and then presented three quilts that she personally made, after reading the history of each recipient’s military and life. The quilts were presented to Jesus “Jess “Garcia, Nancy Clark, and Alfred Trujillo. Pam then spoke about the History of Women Veterans and called all the women veterans in attendance to the front. Each female veteran was given a red rose donated by Thaxton’s Market and a large 8” retired embroidered star framed and assembled by Diana Robinson, VFW Aux Secretary. Each veteran was asked to state their name, branch, year of service, and job when serving. Following, Ron Losey and Friends sang “America, the Beautiful” and then the audience joined in for the chorus of “God Bless America.” Pastor Carlton McKay, Nazarene Church gave the closing benediction and The LAHS students retired the colors. After the service concluded, Pam led the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to Ron Losey and thanked him and his Friends for making this program special.
The VFW Auxiliary then provided a delicious, boxed meal for the veteran and their spouse following the program. The meal was cooked by Steve Bourne of pulled pork, roasted potatoes, green beans, and cookies and 150 meals were served to veterans and their families. Many thanks to the Community Center After School Kids for the decorations, under the supervision of Mimi Marmon and LAES Students’ cards of “Thanks” advised by Sarah Frausto, LAES Teacher. We sincerely appreciate all those who helped in any way to provide this event and clean up, especially the staff at our beautiful Bent County Community Center. More thanks to all the volunteers who returned in the afternoon to take down and store the Avenue of Flags. Veterans Day 2022 is in the record books! God bless our veterans, and God BLESS AMERICA!!