MOHAVE VALLEY — As is tradition, Desert Lawn Memorial Gardens held its annual Veterans Day celebration to recognize all the men and women who have served, are serving or will serve in the United States armed forces.
John Pynakker, Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, himself a veteran, was the master of ceremonies for the occasion and began by welcoming all the servicemen and women in attendance.
“I would also thank their spouses and families for their sacrifice,” said Pynakker. “I would also like to thank the civilians to celebrate this with us as well as Desert Lawn and the Hassetts for putting this on. In talking with Julie a couple of minutes ago, Kevin (Hassett) got this going in 1984 so 35 years, continuous, they’ve been doing this.”
Pynakker said that being the chamber president has its perks but they aren’t as humbling or as important as speaking in front of his military family.
“This day began as Armistice Day and it started as a celebration of peace that followed the conflict of World War I,” said Pynakker. “The following years, it evolved into Veterans Day to honor those who have served and now serve in uniform as well as those who died in service of their country.”
In his speech, Pynakker thanked the veterans who set the example that he and his peers followed to voluntarily serve in the United States Armed Forces.
“I spoke to a lot of people this past week and I’m very disappointed in the amount of people who have to work on Veterans Day,” said Pynakker. “It doesn’t get the recognition that the Fourth of July has, but would we even have an Independence Day if it had not been for our veterans?”
Pynakker told the story of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock, who received the Silver Star for Valor for saving lives.
“Today is set aside to honor those who work to persevere our way of life no matter the consequences,” said Pynakker. “Just 1% of Americans actually join and serve in our military; think of that, one in 100 put on the uniform to defend the freedoms of the other 99. To me, when you think of it that way, it’s truly outstanding what these service members have agreed to do.”
Pynakker gave several ways to thank veterans, not just during Veterans Day.
“First, volunteer to help a veteran or service member regardless of whether you are a veteran or not,” said Pynakker. “Find a way to help them (wounded veterans) whether through Veterans Affairs offices or state and local governments.”
After the opening speech, Pastor Gene Stouffer of Mohave Valley United Methodist Church gave the opening prayer, Mohave High School Junior ROTC presented the colors and Joe Kennedy of High End Productions delivered the national anthem.
Frank Sagasta was asked to give a speech at the Veterans Day Celebration; he said that when he was asked, he was humbled and honored. Sagasta said that his father and his wife’s grandfather are laid to rest in Desert Lawn’s cemetery.
“I wish I could go back and thank every veteran, all of those brave men and women. God bless our troops and all of those who follow behind them,” said Sagasta. “Veterans Day is a special day that all these heroes sitting in the front row and all through the crowd, thank you. Thank you for your service, thank you for all those who have served and those who are serving today in the United States military. It is necessary to remember all of those active, fallen and veterans that have served; this is a day to remember why they fought. It is necessary to stop and thank those who have served and their families, it is necessary to encourage those wanting to serve, it is necessary to listen to those who have served, it is necessary to lift a hand in aid to those who have served, it is necessary for us today to pray and to thank those who have served.”
Sagasta closed by saying that veterans have contributed much value to his life and to the lives of everyone.
“It is only right to stop today, acknowledge our deepest appreciation and love, kindness, because they are willing to give themselves to the biggest cause,” said Sagasta.
To end the program, Stouffer offered a closing prayer, the Tri-State Veterans Honor Guard from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1036 performed the rifle salute and taps. “America the Beautiful” was performed by High End Productions.