During the winter, we find ourselves thinking about the coming year and what it might bring, such as summer vacations, our children’s sports, remodeling our homes, backyard barbecues, or just spending more time with family and friends. But whenever we think of our veterans and our troops defending our freedoms, we might just think of Memorial Day, Independence Day or Veterans Day.
These holidays always evoke our patriotism and Elko is one of the most patriotic places around. However, our troops who have unselfishly volunteered for duty are serving and protecting us every hour of every day of the year. We should consider showing them our appreciation all year long.
This year, let’s recommit ourselves as a community in supporting our troops, their families, our veterans and the volunteer organizations that support them. Elko offers many ways to show your patriotism and support — you don’t have to wait until summer.
Consider attending this year’s POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association’s Annual Chili Feed and Auction beginning at 5 p.m. this Saturday at the Red Lion Inn and Casino. This nonprofit group supports the mission of bringing home all service members who are still listed as prisoners of war, missing in action or unaccounted for. It also supports their families, our veterans and those who are currently serving. This event offers a great way to show our patriotism with raffles, auctions, door prizes and more. Proceeds from this event help support the National League of POW/MIA Families.
Recently, the Elko City Council and Elko County Commission voted to fly the POW*MIA Flag Feb. 18-20 at all city and county buildings in recognition of the National League of POW/MIA Families and the visit to this year’s chili feed event by the national executive director, Anne Mills Griffiths, and other national, regional and state representatives. Some of our city councilmen and county commissioners have offered to personally purchase flags for this purpose. We are thankful for the immense support of the POW/MIA cause by our local government officials and our community at large.
In April, the Raul Bravo Memorial Scholarship Fund barbecue is held in the city park. Started by his family, this event raises money to provide scholarships to Elko High School seniors in the memory of Lance Cpl. Raul S. Bravo Jr., Elko’s only casualty of the current war.
On Memorial Day, the VFW and POW*MIA hold a public ceremony at the city cemetery to remember all those from Elko County who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
And then there is POW*MIA Elko Awareness Day June 30. Originally proclaimed by the city, county and our governor last year, this day brings awareness to all POWs and MIAs, including one of only two currently held POWs — Spc. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho — who was captured in Afghanistan on this day in 2009.
Besides July 4th, there is Patriot Day, Sept. 11; National POW/MIA Recognition Day, the third Friday of September; Veterans Day, Nov. 11; and every Friday offers the opportunity to wear a red shirt, which has become a universal symbol of support for our troops.
Throughout the year local service members arrive home on leave at our airport. Whenever alerted by family, members of the VFW and POW*MIA are there to welcome and thank these brave individuals. The public is invited to join in these ceremonies, which take very little time but mean so much to these heroes and their families.
As you can see, Elko offers a lot to show our patriotism throughout the year. We are proud of our troops, past and present, and it shows. Our community fosters a great patriotic spirit that rivals the best! To learn more, the POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association’s website (www.elkonvpow
mia.org) offers information about its mission and details of upcoming events throughout the year to honor those who serve us.
Todd Scott of the POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association is currently serving as community adviser to the Elko Daily Free Press editorial board.