(Editor’s Note: Due to publication’s deadline constraints, more of the ceremony’s photos will be published in the forthcoming Nov. 20 issue.)
Local families, friends, neighbors and veterans came together at Todd Park on Monday to commemorate the community’s 2019 Veterans Day Ceremony, sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2987, the Frank Luke American Legion Post #24, the Elks Lodge #1799 and the City of Blythe.
Held at the park’s center pavilion, the ceremony began per tradition at 11:11 a.m. The morning’s National Anthem was sung by local Jennifer Arneson, and the post-ceremony barbecue was provided by the Elks.
“Thank you all for coming out to celebrate Veterans Day. This used to be Armistice Day – which was the day that the First World War ended. And it’s been kept on going, now turned into Veterans Day,” stated VFW Post 2987 Post Commander and U.S. Army veteran Bobby Trevino to those in attendance. “Veterans Day is a day where we salute all those past and present, including those who are alive, that have served this great nation. It takes a lot to take that oath and defend this country. A lot of these young men and young women who serve this country put a lot on their shoulders. When you put your arm up, you raise your hand and you take that oath – it’s everyone in the United States that you’re fighting for. Everybody back home, and people that you don’t know, all across this country. It gives great pride to anybody that’s served.”
A keynote address by Blythe Mayor Dale Reynolds also highlighted the importance of Veterans Day to the community.
“Once again, we gather to thank our veterans for their service to the greatest nation on earth. To those of you here today who have given of yourselves to protect the freedoms we have and enjoy, and also to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and are not with us here today in person but in spirit – your country thanks you, your community thanks you, and I thank you,” said Reynolds.
The event culminated in the presentation of the Palo Verde Valley Medals of Recognition and certificates to veterans of the nation’s Armed Forces across all branches and generations.
Family members of service members who’ve passed away were also in attendance to accept the posthumous distinction in their honorary stead.
In addition to honoring the respective veterans, visiting officials from the offices of 56th District Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and 36th Congressional District Representative Dr. Raul Ruiz presented certificates of recognition to the City of Blythe, the Blythe Elks Lodge #1799, the Frank Luke American Legion Post 24, and the VFW Post 2987 for sponsoring the morning ceremony.
Korean War U.S. Army veteran Ray Moraga took a moment to publicly acknowledge one of Blythe’s World War II veterans in 94-year-old U.S. Army Sgt. Meliton Sanchez (1944-1946) of the 163rd Infantry Regiment.
“Mr. Meliton (Sanchez) is one of the few remaining World War II veterans,” noted Moraga to close the ceremony.
Sanchez, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, is one of only 389,292 (of 16 million Americans who served in World War II) alive to date. The only other known WWII veteran in the Blythe area is U.S. Navy veteran Jim Magee.