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Vets' Ceremony Helps To Renew Local Patriotism
Chieftain photos/Chris McLean
Bagpiper Rob Marshall plays Amazing Grace in the shadow of the bonze statute of the late Carl Sitter, a Medal of Honor recipient from Pueblo, during Veterans Day observances Monday at the Pueblo Convention Center.
By KAREN VIGIL The Pueblo Chieftain
Pueblo capped off a weekend of renewed patriotism Monday with stirring Veterans Day ceremonies outside the Pueblo Convention Center to honor those who have served during war and peacetime, as well as those who perished or were lost in the service of their country. The laying of red-white-and-blue wreaths at the striking Medal of Honor memorial by some 14 local veterans groups, a bagpiper's rendition of "Amazing Grace" and a roaring flyover by two Colorado Air National Guard jets helped set a respectful tone for the crisp November morning observance attended by about 500 people.
On Saturday, Pueblo held its first parade in decades to honor the millions of Americans who have served to preserve liberty since the nation's birth 226 years ago.
The renewed spirit of pageantry was not lost on one of Pueblo's most well-known heroes - Raymond "Jerry" Murphy - who was awarded the Medal of Honor for valiant bravery during the Korean War.
"I can't explain how much I love to come back to Pueblo. There is nothing like Pueblo, Colorado, said a beaming Murphy, 72 , who towered over the lectern with a proud soldier's stance.
Earlier, District Attorney Gus Sandstrom, a Vietnam veteran, told the crowd that Murphy, who now lives in Albuquerque, continues his service to his country by volunteering at a veterans hospital and appearing at public presentations nationwide for the Medal of Honor Society.
In introducing Murphy, Sandstrom remembered how the 1948 Catholic High School graduate put the welfare of the Marines under his command before his own.
"It is important to know that as a second lieutenant and platoon commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division on the 3rd of February 1953 on Ungok Hill, Jerry Murphy, wounded by an enemy mortar shell, continued to lead the evacuation of his unit under fire.
"In spite of increasing intense enemy fire, being wounded a second time and having to remain behind to direct evacuation, Jerry Murphy maneuvered his force from one position to another, carried many of the stricken Marines to safety, provided covering fire, organized a search party to recover all Marines and ensured that every one of his men had preceded him to the main line of safety," said Sandstrom.
Murphy, in reciting a late chaplain's prayer, told the group it has "always been the soldier, not the reporter, clergyman, poet, campus organizer or lawyer who has preserved America's freedoms.
But these days, he said, each citizen must help President Bush with his "plan to fend off terrorism from their homeland.
"Just as the American veteran secures peace for others in a war-torn world, we everyday citizens must continue that noble tradition here at home, Murphy said.
Another major highlight of the event was Murphy's presentation of Korean War Service Medals to Joseph C. Martinez of Pueblo and Edsel Bocim of Walsenburg.
Seferino Anaya and Raeann Lucero of the American GI Forum carry a wreath to place at the memorial outside the Pueblo Convention Center. Puebloan Joseph C. Martinez bows his head just before receiving his Korean War Service Medal.
© 2002, by The Pueblo Chieftain
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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