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Cortez honors veterans at parade on Montezuma Avenue

Hundreds attended the annual Veterans Day Parade Friday on Montezuma Avenue in Cortez. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
More than 20 groups participate in parade, including high school marching band and Girl Scouts

Veterans Day was celebrated Friday in Cortez with a lively parade down Montezuma Avenue and other events.

More than 25 organizations signed up to be in the parade, said organizer Mike Brunk.

Hundreds of people lined the street and median to salute the veterans and wave American flags in chilly but sunny weather.

A flyover by a group of planes in formation was conducted by Craig Taylor Flying Service of Pagosa Springs. The Montezuma-Cortez High School and Cortez Middle School bands performed during the parade.

VFW Post 5231 held a ceremony at Veterans Park before the parade, and the Elks Lodge hosted a breakfast for veterans and their families.

A free lunch by End of the Trail Catering was served at the American Legion for veterans and their families after the parade.

The Cortez and Mancos Girl Scout Troops participated with a float thanking veterans.

“They have been meeting with veterans, learning about serving in the military and patriotism,” said Troop Leader Dena Stafford, a U.S. Navy veteran who served 16 years. “Attending the parade gets them involved in the community.”

Many veterans marched in uniform during the parade Friday in Cortez. These men represent the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Girl Scout groups from Cortez and Mancos attended the Veterans Day parade Friday. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
A lot of young people participated in this year’s Veterans Day parade in Cortez. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
The Montezuma-Cortez High School marching band participated in the Veterans Day parade in Cortez Friday. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Candy was handed out to spectators during the Veterans Day parade. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
A flyover kicked off the 2022 Veterans Day parade Friday in Cortez. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

“We’re here to support the Girl Scouts, have fun, and honor the veterans,” said Girl Scout Izabella Garcia.

Veteran Tony Rocco of Lewis attended the parade with his daughter. He served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2005 in the security forces.

“I was deployed all over the world in 17 countries,” he said.

He keeps in touch with people he served with, and receiving texts Friday from people in New York to California.

“It’s important to have faith in your country,” Rocco said. “This community really shows support for the veterans. I really appreciate all the people that organized this.”

Montezuma County VFW Auxiliary President Crystal Overson wanted people to remember the sacrifices veterans make for the country.

“They go to war and leave their families, risk injury and death to protect our society. Consider how unselfish that is,” she said.

The VFW Auxiliary supports families of veterans. The auxiliary has been collecting donations at local grocery stores as part of the Buddy’s Poppies program to support local veterans and their families.

Veteran Jim Winney of Cortez went to the parade in uniform. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1958 to 1964.

“This town is patriotic, prayers for our veterans,” he said.

He said the discipline and training he learned in the military helped him in his career as a police officer and tradesman.

A group of Navajo veterans from Aneth, Utah traveled to be in the parade.

Veteran Henry Lee, a Navajo from Aneth, Utah, attended the parade for the first time, and was impressed with the turnout. He served in the U.S. Army from 1982-86, and later became a police officer.

“The parade shows we are still involved, that people have respect for veterans who protect the country,” Lee said.

Sunshine Farley of Cortez attended the parade with her daughter Aviana and with residents of the Valley Inn Nursing home where she works as a nurse.

“I’m excited to be here. My kids are marching with the Lighthouse Baptist Church,” she said. “We are acknowledging the sacrifices of our veterans. I’m teaching my kids this is an important day. The veterans have our backs, and we have theirs.”