I, too, was saddened about Elko’s patriotism — but not by the lack of patriotism but by Ms. Janet Merzlock’s letter to the editor in Tuesday’s paper. To Ms. Merzlock, I would like to explain Elko’s patriotism. I am sorry that your “snapshot” of Elko left you saddened but if you really knew our community, you might have a different opinion — please let me explain:
I write this as an individual but I am also a member of the POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association. First, the parade that you attended is not a Fourth of July or Independence Day parade. It is held annually on the Saturday nearest the July 4 and usually has some patriotic elements but that’s where the similarities end. This is the annual Basque Festival Parade, which is part of an annual weekend celebration of the Basques and their culture.
As for Elko’s patriotism, I only wish you could have been here on the actual holiday (July 4th) as every year our community raises tens of thousands of dollars to put on one of the largest fireworks programs in the West. This year’s fireworks were preceded by a program held at our county fairgrounds during which a very touching ceremony was held to show support for our U.S. Army POW currently being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Among speeches and patriotic songs, there was a candlelight vigil held in honor of this POW and his family, who hails from Hailey, Idaho.
Also, if you would have traveled 10 miles to Spring Creek on July 3rd, they have an annual Independence Day parade which is very much patriotic.
If you could have been here on Memorial Day, you would have witnessed a very special ceremony held by our VFW and POW*MIA at our city cemetery to honor our war dead and those currently serving our country in harm’s way. If you could have been here back in April, you would have witnessed a special memorial parade and ceremony followed by a fund-raising barbecue to honor our one and only fallen Marine from the current war (Iraq). This annual barbecue raises money to support scholarships for local high school students. This year, enough money was raised to award four scholarships.
If you could have been here in May 2009, you would have witnessed the whole town come out to line the streets as a memorial parade passed by with the remains of three veterans on their way to Arlington, Va. Again in August 2009, you would have seen a similar memorial parade when five veterans’ remains, who had been identified from those unclaimed, were escorted to the Northern Nevada Veteran’s Cemetery in Fernley, Nev.
There is not enough space here to list all the wonderful things this community does to show their patriotism but I wish I could go on. The members of the POW*MIA association to which I belong tirelessly hold events and ceremonies all year round and our community pours out their support, both financially and by attending.
We are very patriotic here in Elko and Elko County and very proud of that fact. High above our city near Interstate 80, our community flies one of the biggest U.S. flags around. I have flown the Stars and Stripes on the front of my house every day since 9-11 and also have added the POW*MIA flag.
I just hope that you will do some research, check out our local newspaper (EDFP), TV station (KENV), or the POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association’s website (www.elkonvpowmia.
org) online and learn more about us. Please give us the benefit of a second look. Thank you.