Southern Boulevard was lined with people Saturday for Veterans Day as the parade marched by before the ceremony started in the park.
“We love it for people to come out and support our veterans and to show appreciation for the service they provide for our country,” Mayor Gregg Hull said as the parade participants lined up on Country Club Drive.
Hull says they will honor the “age-old” tradition in years to come.
Parade participants were varied in background, creativity and politics.
The Cleveland High School marching band, the Boy Scouts, pageant winners, local candidates, representatives, commissioners and council members marched and passed out candy.
Candidates and local representation often march in the parade to reach out to citizens in Rio Rancho. Several of them have family that serve or have served in the military, and some have been members of the military.
“My husband is currently serving in the National Guard as active duty,” state representative candidate Michelle Sandoval said.
She added that she has many family members who served over the years and some who passed away that had served.
“We got our eagle bench with actually my grandfather’s military flag that we just got last year at his funeral; that’s kind of just to bring honor to him,” she said.
County Commissioners Jay Block and Katherine Bruch also marched in the parade.
Block, who served in the Air Force, was there to represent fellow veterans and his own service.
“This is our day as veterans. As a retired Air Force officer and combat veteran, it’s my honor to be around so many veterans today for what they did for the country,” Block said.
Bruch was there as a commissioner, but she also said she felt proud to have family in the military.
“My nephew is an Army ranger, and I wanted to let him know how proud I was today. I sent him a message that said, ‘I am here with respect, honor and gratitude on Veterans Day,'” Bruch said.
While the parade was full of veterans and family of veterans, the street was lined with even more.
Air Force member Jazmine Tapia says she was humbled by her brothers and sisters that are veterans.
“It always feels nice to be appreciated, especially when you go through so much mentally and physically. When you’re in the moment, you don’t really think about the big picture and the impact. But since I’m still active today, it doesn’t really feel like it’s for me. It feels like it’s for my brothers and sisters who’ve completed service and/or passed during service. We are always connected through the uniform we wear or have worn, though,” Tapia added.
While many parade attendees left the scene after it ended, dozens stayed for the ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park afterward.
The ceremony began at 11 a.m., as is tradition, with a song on the bagpipes. Then Marine Corps members playing at the ceremony explained why Veterans Day is so significant.
“I assure you, it’s not a day off of work and day off of school that makes it so important. Veterans Day is a day that we thank and honor every member of the military, both past and present. Putting their lives on hold for everyone else’s freedom. It doesn’t matter if they went to war, stayed in the United States, guarded an embassy, went to sea or spent their time in bases abroad. Every man and woman that entered the military did so to protect our nation, its ideologies, our freedom and each and every one of us individually. Selflessly, they put their lives on the line for the freedoms that we all enjoy, even those freedoms that give way to protesting things that we don’t always agree with,” Commandant Mike Haas said.
He went on to thank his brothers and sisters in service.
After a prayer, Hull addressed attendees with a speech and proclamation from the city of Rio Rancho.
“The city of Rio Rancho honors those who have served or are presently serving in our country’s armed forces through its veterans memorial monument featuring commemorative bricks through a purple heart monument and via roadway signs that indicate Rio Rancho is a Purple Heart city that recognizes the men and women of the U.S. armed forces wounded or killed in combat defending our freedoms. And whereas appreciation and respect for all veterans is being displayed in Rio Rancho, throughout the nation and throughout the nation on Veterans Day.” Hull said from the proclamation.
As part of the ceremony, members in official capacities or emergency services in the city of Rio Rancho and Sandoval County were recognized for their service as well.
Grand Marshall Major Laurel Hull, a retired Marine veteran, was also recognized for her service and received a commemorative plaque from the city.
To commemorate the day, Major Hull went into the history of Veterans Day.
“We gather today to celebrate an ending. We celebrate the end of World War I, the Great War, the war to end all wars. It was a global conflict fought between two international coalitions. It was fought in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Pacific and parts of Asia. It was one of the deadliest wars in history with an estimated 9 million soldiers killed, 23 million wounded plus another 5 million civilians killed. It was also a contributing factor in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. It began the 28th of July, 1914, lasted for four years, three months and 14 days, ending with the armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. November 11th, 1919, was the first commemoration of Armistice Day to include parades and public gatherings as well as a brief pause in business and school activities at 11 a.m.,” she explained.
She added that it did not come to be known as Veterans Day until 1954, when the word armistice was replaced with the word veterans. This was after World War II and the Korean War.
Hull joined the Marines in 1975 and completed training that same year. In her retirement, she lives in Placitas and is involved in a wild horse nonprofit, “Straight from the Horses Mouth.”
After Grand Marshall Major Hull received her plaque, a poem by Andrea Brett, “I Am A Veteran,” was read to the audience. Then, as the branch anthems played, members of each branch of the military present stood in representation
To close out the day, the bagpipes returned, and the ceremony attendees cleared out.