You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day for folks to be outside honoring our veterans on Saturday, November 13. There were close to 100 people at the Senator Carlos R. Cisneros Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Questa, including veterans and their families, as well as staff from Rep. Teresa Leger-Fernandez and Senator Martin Heinrich’s offices.
Retired Marine Colonel Richard Rael spoke about leaving Questa after high school to pursue a career in the military, as did retired Marine Ronald “Ronnie” Gallegos. Ronnie is currently pursuing his second career as a high school football coach in Espanola. (Read more about Colonel Richard Rael in last month’s Veterans Issue cover story.)
Absent was Questeño Clarence Rael, a veteran of the Vietnam era, who lives in El Paso. He is Commander of the American Legion, DAV as well as the VFW. He oversees 10 different VFW posts in El Paso; that is a lot of responsibility. He was missed and honored at the program.
The late Charlie Castulo Cisneros of Cerro was commemorated, the plan was to honor him with a headstone, due to supply chain delivery delays, the headstone will be installed at a later date. All those who have served, in all branches of the military at all times were honored. Commemorative bricks—125 in number—are paving the park, each with a veteran’s name etched into them as tributes. Funds from the pavers go to upcoming new developments of the park and for the purchase of flags.
After the ceremony, the group moved next door to El Monte Carlo for food and beverages. Larry Sanchez, organizer of the event, would like to express his appreciation to Rodney and Chris Arrelano for live music that got people out on the dance floor. Frank Rael of Frank’s Eats & Sweets providing the wonderful Flag Cake. Frank also made banners for two of Questa’s most honored veterans: Valdemar DeHerrera, the only serviceman from New Mexico at Battle of Bataan, who turned 102 on October 8, making him one of the oldest surviving Bataan member, and the late Virgil Martinez who passed away on August 28 this year at the age of 101. Please see our May 2021 issue for more about Virgil. Larry would also like to thank this newspaper for the coverage they provide in supporting our veterans.