Memorial Day 2016: Carson City honors those who gave their lives for our freedoms

Carson City resident Tom Tomashek makes a plate of food at the annual free Memorial Day barbecue hosted by Evergreen Gene's on Monday.

Carson City resident Tom Tomashek makes a plate of food at the annual free Memorial Day barbecue hosted by Evergreen Gene's on Monday.

Carson City held two Memorial Day celebrations to honor the men and women who gave their lives defending the United States.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Stewart Indian Cemetery and the Lone Mountain Cemetery Monday to pay their respects for the service men and women who died from Northern Nevada.

“We are here to honor and give thanks to all of the Native Americans who have given to the call to defend our land,” Chaplain Robert Larson said at the Stewart ceremony. “We salute your willingness and ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace.”

Several of the speakers spoke about how important it was to make sure those lost were not ever forgotten.

“We pledge to always remember the sacrifice made by theses mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, girlfriends who sacrificed, paid for our freedoms with their lives,” said Assemblyman P.K. O’Neil at the Lone Mountain ceremony.

Faye Mitchell, one of the tribal members said it was important to remember fallen servicemen and women so that the children could stand up and defend their country like their late family members.

“All of our people gave their lives for what they believed in and we have to pass that to the younger generation so they can protect our country as well,” Mitchell said.

Another topic commonly discussed was the gratitude for the freedoms that Americans have because of these sacrifices made.

“We honor those military folks, those heroes, those brave souls that give up their lives so that we can be free,” said Sheriff Ken Furlong.

Mayor Robert Crowell spoke about a local Carson City author, Michael Archer, who wrote a book about his experiences in combat in Vietnam and searching for his boyhood friend’s remains after he was killed in Vietnam. Archer didn’t stop until he found out what happened to his friend’s remains and the state is now having a delegation in July that will travel and bring the remains back from overseas.

“What a remarkable way to honor those who died so we may live,” Crowell said. “It is what Memorial Day is all about. Indeed, it is what America is all about — honor, courage, valor, commitment, dedication and pride of country.”

At the Stewart Indian ceremony, they made sure to honor those soldiers who committed suicide after returning from war. Every day, 22 U.S. soldiers, 2.5 of them Nevadans, commit suicide every day. Rt. Major Kevin Burns, of the Carson City Silver State Detachment 630, said there is no longer a sense of community to help the veterans to come back to.

“I remember we used to check up on our neighbors, I know every mother in my town had permission from my mother to kick my butt,” Burns said. “I blame part of it on a loss of sense of community.”

Burns said it is important for neighbors and loved ones to just simply check up on their veterans, and it could mean all the difference.

In all, the day also was about the families, those of the fallen soldiers and those who attended the celebrations. Betty Flint, a member of the Washoe tribe, attended the Stewart Indian celebration for the first time with her son and daughter-in-law. She said she appreciated everyone who came out and those who sacrificed their life for their country.

“Today was a special day for Native Americans, minorities and everyone who served in the free world,” Flint said. “It was such a nice ceremony and I appreciated everyone who attended, we have to remember those who served for us... it was very meaningful and thoughtful.”

In the end, it was important for everyone to remember that Memorial Day is more than barbecues and pool parties, though those can be tangible representations of the freedoms Americans can enjoy thanks to the fallen soldiers.

“Let us use this day to enjoy the fruit of freedom,” said Crowell. “Enjoy an outing with our families and friends, enjoy a day of reflection on what it means to be an American — those who died for use would want that.”


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