ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Without Veterans Day parades and memorials, community members are still finding ways today to honor our servicemen and servicewomen. Locals are getting creative when it comes to recognizing our veterans — from drive-thrus to live-streamed ceremonies.
With no parades or public services due to the pandemic, it’s a quieter Veterans Day than usual in New Mexico. Still, people all over the state are finding their own ways to honor our service members, like a drive-thru breakfast and grocery event in Albuquerque.
“This is a great opportunity for them to come here and get the same gratitude while also being safe through COVID,” said Lan Sena, Albuquerque City Councilor for District One. “They have given their lives to help us enjoy the things that we are able to enjoy,” continued Cynthia Borrego, Albuquerque City Councilor for District Five.
In Rio Rancho, the city held a virtual ceremony on YouTube. At the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial, one veteran says while it’s weird without events, it doesn’t change how he feels about the day.
“You don’t have the pomp and ceremony but you don’t need the pomp and ceremony to realize what’s in your heart to go to the veterans,” said Jerry Soggins, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who was visiting the memorial. “It doesn’t change my feeling. I still have the same feeling. I get the chills just thinking about it.”
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller took to social media in his message to the metro. He encouraged people to come out to the memorial off Louisiana, while staying COVID-safe.
“I want to invite everyone to come to the grounds on Veterans Day,” said Mayor Keller. “Wear a mask, be social distanced, but reflect on the memorials that are here.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also weighed in on the day. Her social media message looked at this year’s experiences, reflecting the values many of our veterans hold.
“It’s been an incredibly challenging year for all of us,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “But one thing I’ve been reminded of amid these crises, is that the willingness to serve is a core American value.”
Even without the big celebrations this year, locals say the meaning of the day is not lost. They say you can still show your support — just grab a mask before you head out.
“Get outdoors and still try to pay our respects whenever we can is the way I look at it,” said local Tim Payne. He says he makes it a tradition to visit the memorial each year.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is also giving lifetime free access to national parks like White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns to veterans and Gold Star Families, starting today, in a way to get out and explore while social distancing. New Mexico is home to more than 140,000 veterans, with 80-percent of them serving during a war or conflict.