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Pearl Harbor Day event honors Cortez veterans

Local veterans honored on Pearl Harbor for their example of character

Cortez veterans commemorated the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor in a reverent ceremony Wednesday in which service members were honored for their example of “true character.”

About 45 people joined the Montezuma County Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5231 at its annual luncheon at the Montezuma County Annex. The luncheon takes place each year on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It’s the fourth consecutive year that the VFW has put on the event, though other events commemorating Pearl Harbor took place before that, VFW member David Johnson said.

Johnson gave a speech before the audience, which included veterans from wars in Vietnam, Korea and the Middle East.

“We forget some of the personal stories of what happened that day,” Johnson said.

Members of the VFW presented the colors and attendees were served lunch. VFW members then presented about 25 veterans with certificates honoring them for their service.

World War II veterans Floyd Norris and Benny Martinez also were in attendance. A third WWII veteran, Bob Nicodemus, couldn’t make it to the ceremony, but VFW members later visited him at the Madison House assisted-living center to present him with a certificate.

Sandra Valencia shared a personal poem about her time serving overseas for the Desert Storm conflict in the 1990s. She left two young children at home to serve.

Johnson shared a story about twin brothers who were on the USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attacks. Only one of the brothers survived.

He also read portions of speeches from then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Nave Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

Nimitz was always an optimist, Johnson said. Even though the attack was devastating, Nimitz remarked afterward that the attackers had not damaged the dry docks or the fuel supply at the military base, Johnson said.

That optimism is a picture of all veterans who are willing to give their all, Johnson said. “I think about the people in this room and around the country – that’s exactly what they do.”

Johnson hoped that people would continue to look up to veterans.

“Veterans have provided us with an example of true character,” he said. “Let’s continue to be inspired.”

VFW member Rick Kriner, who presented the certificates, said he was glad to be able to honor the veterans.

“It’s a pleasure to present these to our veterans,” he said. “They all deserve it.”