October 18th, 2014 American Gold Star Mothers Memorial Dedication & Presentation Ceremony
On Saturday we proudly hosted our partners, the American Gold Star Mothers, Albuquerque Chapter, for their autumn meeting and used that opportunity for them to reach out to other NM Gold Star Moms and invite them and their families to the ranch to see the Gold Star wall memorial that we designed, built and installed on the west wall of our bunkhouse. This one of a kind living "sculpture" contains brass dog tags of all of the Post 9-11 Iraq and Afghanistan NM residents who gave their lives for our country.
One of the dog tags is permanently mounted and the second was presented by the Gold Star Mom's leadership to their fellow Gold Star Mom's.
The beautiful fall day had our service flags fluttering as we opened with introductions by American Gold Star Mom and rancher Becky Christmas. NM Cabinet Secretary for Dept of Veterans' Services, Tim Hale provided our invocation and led us in our opening prayer.
Horses For Heroes-NM Executive Director Rick Iannucci provided a brief history of the Cowboy Up! program and how the wall was designed and constructed. He also introduced Cowboy Up! Director Nancy De Santis and our current Cowboy Up! crew of veterans/instructors who were on hand.
American Gold Star Mom's Current President Kay Coleman, incoming president, Becky Christmas and past president Pat Merville, as well as Gold Star Chapter Mothers Jo Ann Zembiec and Lisa Bowles then read the names of our fallen heroes, their children and presented the dog tags to the visiting Gold Star Moms.
The ceremony concluded with a benediction and meal blessing by our chaplain and former US Marine, Jose Villegas.
Our dear friend Laura Gentile, GM of Santa Fe Olive Garden generously brought her staff and served lunch for all.
The American Gold Star Mothers NM Memorial Wall at the Crossed Arrows Ranch~ Santa Fe
Gold Star Moms~NM going over the final details prior to the presentations
Cabinet Secretary Tim Hale NM Dept of Veterans' Services opening the ceremony with prayer.
American Gold Star Mom from the Navajo Reservation
American Gold Star Mom incoming president
Becky Christmas speaking to the assembled families.
Laura Gentile our dear friend takes a moment at the wall.
The Olive Garden crew standing by for our hungry folks.
The line moved quickly and everyone had plenty to eat thanks to Laura.
Chaplain Jose acting as the greeter.
One of our crew, Carl Hawkins USMC RECON aka "Gunny" with his wife Jo and our good friend Jeff Lowdermilk author of " Honoring our Doughboys" take a moment at the wall.
" Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends" John 15:33
Cowboy Up! participant Cpl. Paul Duran USMC points to his friend's dog tag. Paul and Chris Adelsperger served as Marine Scout Snipers together in Fallujah.
LCPL Christopher Adlesperger USMC
KIA Iraq~ Navy Cross~ Purple Heart~ RIP Brother
"Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life.
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness and every gain Divine!
(from America the Beautiful)