Updated: May 25, 2020 06:20 PM
Created: May 25, 2020 04:55 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — While many Memorial Day services have shifted online, one outspoken New Mexico mayor invited people to gather in Grants to honor fallen veterans.
Grants was one of the few cities in New Mexico that offered a largely unchanged in-person Memorial Day service, but the Monday gathering turnout was still much smaller than in previous years.
Organizers estimated around 20 to 30 people showed up to the memorial.
“This place is usually packed,” said Aaron Dean, commander of the American Legion in Grants.
“We kept at social distancing and we had a few people talk and did a prayer and everything you're supposed do on Memorial Day,” Dean added.
A couple dozen people showed up including Grants Mayor Martin Hicks, who made a speech. In the speech, Hicks quoted president and founding father John Adams
"Liberty must at all hazards be supported we have a right to it, derived from our Maker, not from any government guys,” Mayor Hicks said.
Mayor Hicks, who is embroiled with state officials in the fight to reopen Grants, said the public health order violates people’s constitutional rights.
“And they died for what? The constitution, for your liberties, for your freedoms. How can you not observe this and not acknowledge what's being done to us today,” the mayor said.
The sacrifices made are not lost on him.
"There's my brother's cross right there,” Hicks said.
Hicks’ brother, Butch, commit suicide after returning home from Vietnam where he served as a medic for the U.S. Army. His cross is surrounded by hundreds of other crosses. Each cross has the name of a veteran from Cibola County who died. The oldest cross dates all the way back to the Civil War.
“But, that's my brother and we miss him very much,” Hicks said.
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