Honoring American Heroes in Farmington

Dear Friend,

We should never forget our nation's fallen heroes, veterans, and military families, and the proud tradition of New Mexicans answering our nation's call of duty. Last week, I had the honor of visiting the Healing Field flag display and delivering remarks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Memory Gardens Cemetery in Farmington. If you have a moment, I encourage you to read the Daily Times story below about my visit.

Seeing all of those American flags was a true reminder of the countless sacrifices our service members have made in defense of our great nation. It was a privilege to meet with local Blue Star Mothers, veterans, and members of the San Juan Rotary Club who help display the field of flags at the Farmington Boys & Girls Club to pay honor to those who have served and those we have lost. I was especially touched when they showed me a flag flying in honor of my father's service in the Navy.

During my visit, I was also proud to present a flag flown over the United States Capitol to former Aztec mayor and decorated Marine Corps Vietnam veteran Mike Padilla. Mike has long been a champion for veterans in San Juan County. Last fall, Mike helped me present a Vietnam veteran with his Bronze Star Medal and recognize another local veteran for his more recent service in Afghanistan.

My office has helped hundreds of veterans across New Mexico access the care and benefits they earned. Whether you or a family member are experiencing trouble filing a claim, receiving benefits, accessing health benefits or military records, replacing medals, or other veterans issues, my office is here to help. Please contact my office in Farmington by calling (505) 325-5030 or visit the Veterans Resources Center on my website.

I am always moved by how many ordinary New Mexicans made extraordinary contributions to our nation. Today, and every day, we should remember our men and women in uniform who never made it back home.

Sincerely,

MARTIN HEINRICH

United States Senator

Healing Field flag honors father of U.S. Sen. Heinrich

Hannah Grover Published 1:15 p.m. MT May 29, 2017

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, looks at a dog tag on a flag Monday, May 30, 2017, at FARMINGTON - Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, visited the Healing Field today at the Farmington Boys & Girls Club to see a flag displayed in his father's honor.

The Healing Field is an annual Memorial Day flag display in Farmington put on by the San Juan County Rotary Club with the help of the Blue Star Mothers of San Juan County. People can purchase dog tags to hang on flags in the field in honor of people who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces.

Peter Heinrich served in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s in the Marshall Islands. Heinrich said he felt honored to have his father's flag and name displayed among so many other veterans.

While the senator had never visited the Healing Field in Farmington before, he stopped by to see his father's flag prior to going to Memory Gardens Cemetery, where he spoke during the annual Memorial Day ceremony.

Heinrich walked through the flag display, which was set up in the field outside the Farmington Boys & Girls Clubs, after he visited his father's flag. He paused to read names on dog tags hanging from the flags. While reading the names, he had the chance to hear the stories behind the names.

Heinrich said having a flag honoring his father gave him the opportunity to tell his father's story.

"The thing I think is most important is to not forget the stories of those who didn't return," Heinrich said.

In the center near the entrance to the Healing Field, a series of flags honor people who died in service in either Afghanistan or Iraq.

Heinrich and Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe stopped at the flags to visit the one honoring Sgt. James Thode, a Farmington police officer who died while on deployment to Afghanistan.

Heinrich and Hebbe were among hundreds of people who visited the Healing Field over Memorial Day weekend.

"Who would have thought that just a field full of flags would mean so much for so many people," said Ross Rogers, president of San Juan County Rotary Club.

Blue Star Mothers' chapter president Diane McClelland said she was glad to see several people bring their children to the field. She said it is important to remember people who have served in the armed forces and to teach children about it.

"From the time it began, we have protected our country for our freedoms and they paid the ultimate sacrifice," McClelland said.