Ceremony honors local veterans

By Darrell Todd Maurina: CNJ News Journal

As nearly 300 people gathered outside the Clovis-Carver Public Library for a Memorial Day ceremony dedicating Curry County’s new veterans memorial, several family members of deceased veterans being honored enjoyed a reunion after spending years apart.

Tommy Hohstadt said he was surprised to see Nancy Young Wright when she attended House Baptist Church. Both have relatives who died in war and had their names engraved on the veterans memorial, and both were among the family members who unveiled monuments for Curry County war dead. Both families attended school together.

Hohstadt’s brother, Jimmy Hohstadt, was a school athlete and basketball homecoming king who knew several members of the Young family at House High School before he was drafted and sent to Vietnam. Jimmy Hohstadt was killed in action on Oct. 9, 1967, less than a year after being drafted.

“I’m honored to get to be here today, and I’m pleased our county honors those who died for freedom,” Hohstadt said. “I know there is a greater freedom they fought for and we know they were fighting not just for temporal freedom but for spiritual freedom. I believe we will be reunited one day and we will have an eternity to spend together.”

Siblings Nancy Young Wright and John Young came to honor two of their uncles, Dan and Jack Love, who were among those killed during World War II.

“We heard a lot about our uncles growing up, but I don’t think we really understood what they went through until we read their letters,” said John Young. “I’m glad they’re taking the time to honor the World War II veterans, they are passing away so fast that if we don’t honor them now many of them won’t be left here to honor.”

Nancy Young Wright said she appreciated comments by speakers at the memorial noting that Dan Love was buried at sea and had no gravestone.

“It’s nice to know there is a place where the brothers’ names are; this is where they can be remembered,” Wright said. “It makes me feel very proud and I’m sure it meant a lot to my mother.”

Wright said before the memorial was built, her mother’s few items by which she could remember her brothers included a pair of silk stockings in a cedar chest. Wright once asked her mother why she never wore those stockings. She said they were mailed to her as a present by her brother Jack. They were purchased in Brazil while her brother’s plane was on the way to combat in Europe.

The main speaker at the event wasn’t from Clovis and didn’t know the majority of people at the ceremony, but Senior Master Sgt. James Stewart, the top enlisted man of the 27th Security Forces Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, said it’s important for those on active duty to honor veterans and teach their stories to young people growing up.

“We wanted with this ceremony to focus it on those men on these,” Stewart said, pointing to the pillars.

“We tried to focus it on the 171 people who paid the ultimate price for our freedom,” Stewart said.

The Clovis Joint Veterans Council coordinated the veterans memorial project. Jim Cowman, a member of the council said he was proud of the organization.

“The honored guests for the day were the 171 veterans, and as the master of ceremonies said, this is the resting place for those who don’t have gravestones and were buried at sea,” Cowman said.

While the ceremony was filled with patriotic songs, tributes, and reunions of people who moved from Clovis many years ago, those present didn’t forget that Memorial Day is a bittersweet holiday.

“I believe we’d rather see our family members,” Hohstadt said, “but if this memorial is what we have to remember them by, I’m glad it’s here.”