BULLHEAD CITY — Two Bullhead City Veterans Day remembrances occurred along the Colorado River on Saturday. One was hosted by the American Legion Post 87; the other was a dedication ceremony at Arizona Veterans Memorial Park for the completed Eternal Flame Monument.
Several leaders of the American Legion post spoke briefly about how those who served are affected, as are their families and other members of the community.
“Heroism becomes contagious,” said Ken Martin, second vice commander of the post. “Let us strive to see the spirit of self-sacrifice in peace as well as war.”
George Ison, the post’s first vice commander, was the keynote speaker for the American Legion’s traditional ceremony. He read the World War I-era poem “In Flanders Field.”
The following portion is from the viewpoint of a soldier who died in battle:
“Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
Ison then made note of all of the wars the United States has been involved in — as well as the human toll each exacted — since World War I. Returning to the present day, he talked about a recent school assembly he attended. Boys talked enthusiastically about their fathers going hunting, but one quiet little girl with a small flag and red poppy captured Ison’s attention.
“I could see she had something to say,” he recalled.
Ison asked the other children to quiet down so he could speak to the girl.
“My mommy’s in Iraq and she’s not dead yet,” she said.
School staff were left speechless and some had tears in their eyes. So Ison decided to take a leap of faith and tell the girl: “Your mommy’s going to be just fine.”
The girl’s mother ultimately came home.
The point of the anecdote is that the military is composed of members of the community, including “fathers with children” and “mothers with children,” Ison said. “Please remember that’s what today is all about.”
Later in the afternoon, hundreds of people came to watch the dedication of the newly completed Eternal Flame on the North Peninsula in Arizona Veterans Memorial Park. It took nine years for members of Veterans United, Inc., to have a cap installed on the monument’s pillars.
Veterans United, Inc., is a local nonprofit organization that honors veterans by raising money to erect memorials to them in the park. That work will continue as the group works to eventually install two other features: A memorial honoring Arizona medics and corpsmen, as well as a bridge to connect the north and south peninsulas.
Members of River Valley Girls Soccer helped set up the area around the monument for the dedication. Some of the team members have ties to the military. For example, one of last year’s players entered the U.S. Navy, said JV coach Carrie Nicklass.
“It makes them proud. It gives them a sense of pride to help their community,” Nicklass said.
They offered to take up the scores of small flags neatly lined up in the grass in front of the monument but Larry Stevenson, one of the board members of Veterans United, said it was OK to leave them until Monday to mark Veterans Day weekend. That way, more people can see the monument completed and specially decorated even if they missed the actual dedication and commemoration of Veterans Day.
Bullhead City resident Larry Nicolai, a Korean War veteran who served in the U.S. Navy, brought his dog to the memorial park. He usually takes the dog to Rotary Park so it can run more freely but Nicolai wanted to see how the completed monument looks.
He had one of the T-shirts sold by Veterans United under his arm, still fully wrapped. The T-shirts and bottled water were on sale to help the group raise funds for its park additions. There also was a luncheon before the dedication.
“I like the result,” he said.