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Community Veterans Honored in Lehi

Veterans honored at the Veterans Day Program in Lehi on November 11, 2016. (Top row l-r) Mike Carlos, Rick Dumas, Filmore Carlos, Joe Jacobson, Gregory Vincent, Tony Dallas, E. Pacer Reina, Tsosie Wood, Sgt. Travis Mathews, Officer Milan Skokic, unknown, Bob Aguilar, Gene Juan, Officer Paul Huskey, unknown, unknown. (Bottom row l-r) Frank Thomas, Joseph James, Garnette Gates, Eldon Moore, Lauretta Johnson, Burleigh Saunders, Maynard Andrews, unknown, SRPMIC President Delbert Ray, Sr., unknown, Danny Harvier.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Veterans Day Program honored all Community veterans on Friday, November 11, at the Lehi Community Building.

SRPMIC Veterans Representative Pacer Reina served as emcee for the event. Reina welcomed all guests and thanked them for their support. The program began with an invocation by the commander of American Legion Post #114, Darrell Hills, and the posting of the colors by the Salt River Police Department Color Guard, accompanied by Barbara Johnson who sang the national anthem. Members of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit #114 Bushmasters led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance, and SRPMIC President Delbert Ray, a Marine Corps veteran, welcomed everyone to the event.

This year, Veterans Day came just three days after our country elected a new president. President Ray pointed out that veterans fight for all rights and freedoms, and one of those is the right to vote.

“To all the veterans, job well done,” said Ray. “Some of the things we’ve done as veterans was to protect the rights of America—number one, being the right to vote, the right to choose [your] leadership.” He then recognized the SRPMIC leadership, asking SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier and all Council representatives present to stand.

Reina and Rick Dumas of American Legion Post #114 read out the names of approximately 500 veterans during roll call. Applause and occasional shouts were heard as those present acknowledged the name of a parent, sibling, family member or friend.

Five Community members are currently serving in the military. A moment of silence was offered to remember those who have passed and to pray for those current members for a safe return home.

Hills shared a personal story, remembering his years of service during the Vietnam War.

“I’m lucky to have come home after those two tours,” said Hills. “Those of you who have these young ones that might be in service now, pray for them. Pray for them to come home safe, and pray for each other.”

Special recognition was given to veterans of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm as the Veterans Affairs Office presented them with a small gift: dog tags with the Southwest Asia Service Medal. The service medal was awarded to members of U.S. Armed Forces who participated in the military operations in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia against Iraq from 1991 to 1995.

All veterans were then called up to center stage for recognition and a group photograph. Friends and family members clicked away to capture the SRPMIC veterans on this day reserved just for them.

A small raffle was held, and lunch was provided by Tweedy’s Frybread. Custom-made T-shirts, designed by Reina, were handed out to all guests.

“The turnout for this year’s event was the largest we’ve had in some time. It has grown every year, but this is without a doubt the biggest crowd that we’ve had, and it is good to see a lot of veterans coming out,” said Reina.

The Veterans Affairs Office organizes the event and is assisted by many volunteers, such as the American Legion Post, American Legion Auxiliary and the Red Mountain Riders.

While Veterans Day comes every year, we should always give thanks to those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedoms. Thank you for your service, veterans!

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