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Every year for Memorial Day the Mesilla Valley Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 2004 and the Veterans Memorial Park Wall Committee hold a ceremony honoring those who died in combat from the Mesilla Valley.
This year, the members of the Purple Heart group will be putting the candles on the Veterans Memorial Wall, but there is no public ceremony said committee member Rod Gajewski.
“We prefer to err on the side of caution because of Covid,” he said. “Next year, we will have the full ceremony to honor those who have fallen. There are 204 names of those who have fallen in combat.”
The most recent of those names is that of Sgt. 1st Class Antonio “Rey” Rodriguez, 28, was killed while on a special operation in eastern Afghanistan on February 8, 2020, according to the Department of Defense. Rodriquez grew up in Las Cruces and graduated from Mayfield High School.
See page 32 of this issue of the Bulletin to see a list of people from the region who were lost in battle.
Passing through Las Cruces on missions to honor those who have served, two groups made their way across country last week. On Tuesday, May 17 Carry the Load walkers visited Las Cruces. They cross the country to “restore the true meaning of Memorial Day,” according to their website. And on Friday, May 20, close to 400 Run for the Wall motorcycle riders on the “southern route,” stopped at the Las Cruces Veterans Memorial Park to join in a wreath laying ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Run for the Wall terminates in Washington DC at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.