Mesilla, N.M. — The mayor of Mesilla and the local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans unveiled a plaque Friday commemorating the 30th anniversary of the chapter’s founding. Disabled American Veterans is a national organization chartered by Congress to provide assistance and support to disabled veterans and their families.
DAV Chapter 38 Commander Carl Christman said he hopes the ceremony, which took place at Veteran’s Park, will garner public support for the group’s activities.
“It’s all about getting the veterans and their families taken care of, because unfortunately sometimes they get forgotten,” said Christman, noting the sometimes subtle public disregard for military veterans in general, and disabled vets in particular. “We also have a lot of homeless ones, so we try and do what we can to take care of all our members.”
The ceremony opened with the presentation of colors by Mayfield High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps color guard, followed by a brief invocation.
Christman then called on Mayfield High School alumna Pvt. Samantha Burke to stand up and be acknowledged. Burke just graduated from Marine Corps basic training at Camp Lejeune, N.C. She is the granddaughter of Sammy Burke, one of the founding members of the Mesilla DAV chapter, who passed away in 1984, one year after founding the chapter.
Burke, who enlisted in the Marine Corps September 11, 2012, said it was especially poignant she was able be in town for the ceremony as her grandfather had always had an affect on her, even though they had never been able to meet.
“I was always influenced by my grandfather,” said Burke with a smile. “I always saw (photos of) him in his uniform and he looked so sharp, I thought to myself ‘Wow, I want to look that good too!’” Burke added she had always felt her grandfather, who was also a leatherneck, was a big inspiration for her and it motivated her to be a part of something bigger than herself.
The plaque was unveiled by Christman, DAV auxiliary Unit Commander Annaliese Rauber and Mayor Nora Barraza. Following the ceremony, Barazza spoke about the level of support she and the town of Mesilla has for DAV’s mission.
“There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for our disabled vets, or any veteran for that matter,” said Barazza. “They have sacrificed so much, and their families have sacrificed as well by being a part of that, so how can we not help our veterans?”