Paying our respects
Every year on the last Monday of May like clockwork, representatives from Fallon’s military community visit three cemeteries to perform ceremonies remembering the men and women who either died as a result of their service to their country or passed away in later life.
Volunteers planted more than 1,200 United States flags next to gravesites the day prior to Memorial Day to recognize veterans interred at the Fallon Cemetery.
Across the valley in Fernley, the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery conducted its Memorial Day observances. In preparation for the ceremonies, the public also attended a flag placement ceremonies and assisted in placing flags at each gravesite
“The flag placement is a big part of Monday’s event,” said the NNVMC. “We have families with their children and people of all ages come together to join in and help create a great atmosphere for Monday’s event.”
Beginning Monday at the Fallon Cemetery, representatives from the Veterans of Foreign War Post 1002, American Legion Post 16, Fleet Reserve Association 192 and the Marine Corps each read symbolic pieces of information and then placed a representative item such as a wreath, flowers or a flag at the base of a monument.
The same scenario played itself out at the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe’s cemetery off Reservation Road and at The Garden’s Funeeral Home, which has a veterans’ section under the shadow of its Lane of Flags — 75 flags flapping the Stars and Stripes in a gentle breeze.
Each cemetery welcomed its guests — many friends and family — to manicured grounds prepared specifically for the occasion.
Volunteers, for example, began to cleanup the tribal cemetery in mid-May for the Memorial Day ceremonies where scores of veterans fought in World War I to the present-day wars.
Jill Downs, one of the volunteers and editor of the tribe’s newspaper, Numa News, said Memorial Day is a time to honor and respect.
“Most people come out here a few weeks prior to Memorial Day with their cleanup efforts,” she said.
Downs said many members of the families like to spruce up around the graves and place flowers and American flags. She added other tribal residents are also buried at the Fallon Cemetery or The Garden’s to be nearer to family members or loved ones.
Tribal chairman Len George, a U.S. Army veteran, takes an intense interest in the annual ceremony.
“They didn’t ask to leave their homes to fight on some battlefield,” George said of the veterans, “but they rose to the nation’s call.”
George offered a few remarks on the importance of Memorial Day before Korean War veteran Ernie Hooper delivered a prayer followed by Ashley George.
Len George said it’s important for tribal members to serve with the armed forces, and he is pleased the Memorial Day ceremony includes all people and all races.
“These ceremonies should never be separated,” he said.
He said American Indians from many tribes join the military and serve side by side with people from all cultures. As with the two latest wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, people of all races and cultures patrolled together and fought the enemy together.
“It’s important for the Churchill County community to come out and recognize all veterans,” said George, who thanked the VFW, the American Legion, Marines and Navy for their annual program for the deceased veterans. “All vets need to be recognized for their contributions. Each year they (military organizations) do an outstanding job.”
One of the projects being undertaken by the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe is putting together information on their veterans.
“We have a cultural coordinator looking at putting together a memorial book from the FPST for our community,” George said.
George said the information will include their background, military service, duty locations in both the United States and overseas and military rank.
“It’s important to know their histories,” George stressed.