ALAMOSA — Del Norte native Randy Robertson spent his military career in the U.S. Air Force and has learned not only about the meaning of Memorial Day, but also his own commitment and that of his comrades.
As keynote speaker during Memorial Day ceremonies at the Alamosa Municipal Cemetery American Legion plot, he thanked those present for coming out to pay tribute the nation’s “true super heroes.”
A 1980 graduate of Del Norte High School, he enlisted right out of high school, got out after four years, then re-enlisted, retiring in 2005.
While his career could draw accolades, he said, “Don’t thank me for my service. Compared to those we honor today, I did nothing. I came home. Today, remember and thank those who are not here, but will forever be in our thoughts and prayers.
As the white gravestones seemed to stand at attention, he noted that some notable places have been named after fallen heroes, “they often, over time, lose sight of the magnitude of their sacrifice.”
“There is a mountain in Arizona names Piestewa Peak, named after Pfc. Lori Piestewa,” he said. “There are countless roads, parks, buildings and so on named for our fallen and, sadly, most of us don’t know the story of the person honored.”
A member of the Hopi Nation, Lori Ann Piestewa was a United States Army soldier killed during the Iraq War. A member of the Quartermaster Corps, she died in the same Iraqi attack in which fellow soldier Jessica Lynch was captured.
He spoke of Lance P. Sijan, who was killed in Vietnam but received the Medal of Honor posthumously in honor of his actions, as well as his will to survive. Sijan Hall at the U.S. Air Force Academy is named in his honor.
“Don’t get me wrong. Today isn’t about Medal of Honor recipients, it’s not about glory or uncommon valor,” he told the crowd as wind flapped flags around him. “We’re here to remember all of the fallen. None of them were seeking glory or recognition. They were fighting for the person next to them. Not all are remembered by anyone except their families.”
“Our Valley has more than her share of heroes who gave all: Glen Martinez, Faith Hinkley and Travis Anderson are but our most recent,” he said. “We honor not only them, but those who paid the price before them.”
“The Book of John Chapter 13 verse 13 tells us, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a many lay down his life for his friends.’ We owe them that laid down their lives more than we can ever repay.”
“We must always remember them,” he said. “So, today, Memorial Day, is not about BBQs, a long weekend or about all veterans. It’s about love and remembrance and safrifice. It’s about someone’s father, grandfather, brother, son, uncle or nephew. It’s about someone’s mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, aunt or niece.”
“It’s about someone who laid down their life, who made the ultimate sacrifice for another — for us.”
He spoke only at the American Legion plot.
Ceremonies at four burial areas included special prayers, the placing of flowers in honor of those in each branch of service who lost their lives in service to the nation, along with the veterans’ organizations and auxiliaries. These ceremonies and prayers were repeated at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) section, POW-MIA section and the Alamosa Spanish Cemetery along Co-Op road.
Taps were sounded and the 21-volley salute was fired, with the admonition that no one forget: Freedom is not free.