On a day set aside to pay tribute to those who died for their country, local heroes were honored at the War Heroes Memorial in Jarales on Memorial Day.
The flag raised during the ceremony was loaned to the American Legion Secundino Baldonado Post 81, host of this year’s event, by the George Benavidez’s family. Benavidez, a World War II veteran, was awarded the Bronze Star. Post member Ruperto Baldonado said Benavidez grew up and went to school in Jarales.
Baldonado said the memorial is a tribute to those from Jarales, Bosque, Pueblitos and Casa Colorada who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom from World War I to Vietnam. He also said the War Heroes Memorial is to honor those who lived through and died in the Bataan Death March.
“I remember I was just 10 years old, and I’ll never forget how they were lifted up like a magneto and taken to war,” Baldonado said. “There are no words to describe their sacrifice.”
The memorial has been the site for the annual celebration and remembrance since 1986 when the marble monument was first unveiled. Folks from all over the county — veterans, families of the fallen and community members — gather each year to honor those who died in battle, who gave their lives for freedom.
Those honored and remembered are: World War I: Porferio Peña; World War II: Filimon C. Castillo, Ignacio C. Castillo, Luis Espinosa, Jeremias G. Martinez, Jesus P. Trujillo, Antonio Armijo, Ivan Lee Block, Horacio Chavez, Seferino G. Chavez, Elvin Crawford, Anthon Wayne Golleheair, Raymond Livers, Wayne Livers, Benito Lopez, Rufino Molina, Pedro Torres, Florenio Trujillo, Daniel Ulivarri, Alfredo Baca, Archie “Buddy” Boggus, Arturo Sais and Edwin Trujillo; Korea: Alfredo B. Olguin and Fidel Peralta; Vietnam: Secundino Baldonado, Luperto Garcia and Jerry Delbert Abeyta
At the end of Monday’s ceremony, Dicky Romero, owner of Romero Funeral Home in Belen, surprised the crowd as he released dozens of white doves into the overcast skies. They immediately gathered into formation, swooping up, and circling back around over the crowd and War Heroes Memorial.
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