Alamogordo News: Tularosa remembers Barreras, others for sacrifice

By:  Janessa Maxilom

As the stars and stripes were hoisted from half-staff to the top of a flag poll during the Tularosa Memorial Day observance, a solemn silence of reverence for the nation's fallen ensued.

On Monday, American Legion Post 108 and the Friends of Historic Tularosa organizations hosted their annual Memorial Day observance ceremony at the Tularosa Veteran's Park.

Many citizens from surrounding communities showed up to pay homage to men and women who have fallen while serving in the U.S. military.

"I'm really proud to see people come here and pay respect and give due honor to those who have sacrificed their all for this country," Friends of Historic Tularosa president Cynthia Prelo-Riedlinger said.

Prelo-Riedlinger said the Village of Tularosa has been observing Memorial Day in the park since 2006.

She said the observance ceremony has grown over the years and that she hopes to see it grow more.

Local and state officials attended the ceremony to pay their respects to the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the military.

Sen. Martin Heinrich spoke about the importance of the holiday.

"These days too many people think of Memorial Day and the first thing they think of is barbecues and a three-day weekend," Heinrich said.

He said the day was about honoring heroes like Command Sgt. Maj. Martin R. Barreras.

Barreras, 49, died from wounds he received during a small-arms fire attack on his unit in Afghanistan. Barreras called Tularosa his hometown.

"When you hear Command Sgt. Maj. Barreras story and what he was willing to sacrifice — really on behalf of all of us — you understand what a great country we really are," Heinrich said.

Heinrich said it is important to remember and honor soldiers like Barrera.

He said it is important for people to keep the families of fallen soldiers in their thoughts and prayers.

"Let's never forget them," Heinrich said. "Let's never forget the folks who are serving our country for us today. And please let's never forget the families who carry on and stand behind them."

Heinrich said he felt privileged to be able to attend and speak at the ceremony in Tularosa.

"I wanted to come here and join the ceremony," Heinrich said. "It was really an honor to do it. I think Tularosa is indicative of the kind of spirit that New Mexico has throughout the state. This is a state where people truly care about the people who serve this country and in the case of Memorial Day we recognize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country."