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MEMORIAL DAY

Veterans Park

Honoring, remembering and still growing

Posted

The City of Las Cruces’ garrison flag will be flying on Memorial Day at Veterans Memorial Park, 1151 Roadrunner Parkway, and members of the city Veterans Advisory Board will place candles on the Veterans Memorial Wall.

“Our Veterans Park is better characterized as hallowed ground, recognizing the sacrifices of our brave heroes who served this great country of ours,” said Mayor Ken Miyagishima. “While extending an opportunity for our young ones to better understand the role of the U.S. military and when America needs her heroes, these brave women and men answer the call.”

The park was dedicated May 5, 1999. It was built as a cooperative effort by the City of Las Cruces and the Las Cruces Home Builders Association in conjunction with the Veterans Advisory Board and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

The park’s memorial walking path guides visitors through monuments honoring Disabled American Veterans, other veterans’ groups and military organizations and the wars they fought in.

The Vietnam Memorial honors the 398 New Mexicans killed during the Vietnam War.

The Bataan Death March Memorial was dedicated April 13, 2002. Bonnie and Gerry Schurtz of Las Cruces traveled across New Mexico taking plaster casts of the bare feet of survivors of the 1942 Bataan Death March in the Philippines for the footprints placed at base of the monument. Members of the Remember Bataan Foundation, comprised of descendants of Bataan soldiers, clean and maintain the monument. 

The Women Veterans Monument was dedicated March 10, 2018. The project was spearheaded by the United Military Women of the Southwest and is one of only a few of its kind across the country that honor military women.

“Veterans Memorial Park is a very special place,” retired U.S. Marine Capt. Carol J. Gaines said. “It pleases me, makes me grateful that veterans are remembered and honored, and sad as I remember those veteran friends from a long time ago and those here in Las Cruces that have died.

“But mostly I think about the veterans in Las Cruces of all services and all eras and the camaraderie that we share … what could be better than that,” Gaines added. “We have a special bond that others do not understand.”

In November 2019, the Las Cruces City Council voted unanimously to adopt a conceptual master plan for the park that will include the addition of a new parking lot, more space for memorials and monuments and additional landscaping and other features.

The city Parks and Recreation Department is finalizing pathway lighting and design at the park, repairing lighting at the Women’s Memorial, recoating asphalt pathways and finalizing construction documents for the new parking lot, said Parks and Rec Director Sonya Delgado.

“It is very important that all veterans have an area dedicated to them,” said New Mexico Disabled American Veterans Chapter 10 of Las Cruces Adjutant Jerry Hernandez. “As servicemen and women military veterans, we have also served our country to the fullest and then beyond. We protect our nation and we will not give up even if we do not actually serve anymore.”

Communities give back to veterans and military personnel, Hernandez said, and the park “is one great way of doing that.”

Veterans Park also shows “all those conflicts and wars that we have participated in and honoring those who have passed and served,” he said.

The park is also a connecting point for city hiking and biking trails (www.las-cruces.org/1417/Trails), and it is home to burrowing owls and other desert dwellers.