By Angela Peacock
More than just a day off, Nov. 11 is a time for Americans to locate and praise one of the 25 million living United States veterans who have served this nation.
That was the message Quay County Commissioner Grace Madrid, expressed in her keynote address during Tucumcari’s Veterans of Foreign War annual ceremonies Tuesday morning at Veterans Park in Tucumcari.
“September 11 has shown us that we are not immune to attacks on our own territory and for all those who continue to protect this country Americans need to remember Veterans Day as a time to honor America’s true heros,” Madrid said.
Among the VFW Post 2528 active members who particpated in Tuesday’s annual ceremonies the man who proudly displayed the American flag was Canuto “Kenneth” Montano. He said not only is he proud to be an American veteran, but is honored to be New Mexico’s most recognized Vietnam War veteran, earning a total of 47 medals and certificates including a Purple Heart and Brown Star. Montano, a 1961 graduate of Tucumcari High School, served the 101 Air Borne Infantry and 82nd Air Borne Infantry as a machinery gunner and door gunner between the years 1967-1971. Veterans Day to Montano is a time to recognize himself and others who have served the armed forces to defend this nation and other suffering nations in times of danger. Montano’s son Kenneth Montano currently serves his country in the United States Navy, which makes his father proud.
“I’m glad he’s in the service participating and helping out other troops around him,” said Montano, who continued serving his country after retirement through more than 25 years of honor guard duties for the Tucumcari VFW Post 2528.
Though Montano’s combat days over he said there are still services he’d enjoy providing for America.
“I’m way beyond those other guys who battled in Vietnam so I want to talk to the people who are going into combat and tell them how I survived four tours in the Vietnam War,” said Montano, proudly explaining what each patch represented on his original military uniform dated on back with each year Montano served the Air Borne Infantry. “I survived by staying alert day and night, and by knowing not to ever underestimate the enemy.”