Community Events

More than 4,000 attend Memorial Day ceremony

Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

As they do every May for Memorial Day and December for Wreaths Across America, a large crowd streamed through the gates on May 26 to remember those veterans interred at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, and elsewhere, who served this country.

Awaiting them, as always, was the immaculately groomed grounds of the Veterans Memorial Ceremony.

Keynote speaker Governor Joe Lombardo accepted the presentation of more than 7,000 dog tags in three ruck sacks as part of Operation Battle Born, representing an American service member killed in either Iraq or Afghanistan. A group of veterans marched with the ruck sacks from Carson City to the Veterans Cemetery. One veteran marching with the group carried a fourth ruck sack, containing 150 dog tags representing Nevadans killed in Vietnam.


“You guys (coming home from Vietnam) did not receive the welcome we did,” said Felipe Gutierrez De Alba, a Marine Corps veterans and program coordinator for the Veterans Resource Center at Truckee Meadows Community College.

This year’s ceremony honored Gold Star Families, and as part of his keynote address, Lombardo said their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

“And I’m not just saying that, I mean that we will always remember what your family has given to their country,” Lombardo said.

Following the formal ceremony, most of the crowd of more than 4,000 took the time to wander through the cemetery, reflecting on those who gave their time, and for many, their lives, in service to the United States.

Grounds superintendent Gave Velazquez said he is in awe of how many people turned out Monday, and for every other major event the cemetery hosts.

“Not every veteran here has someone that can come every day,” he said. “But when we have events like this and we have this amount of people, to me, you’ve got our veterans looking down, seeing the support, seeing how much their service meant to our community, to our country, and to me personally. Seeing this kind of support, I can’t be thankful enough.”

The cemetery currently occupies 21 developed acres, with total property of 44 acres. The last expansion was planned to last about 10 years, so Velazquez said they’ll be looking to expand again in about five years.

Velazquez has worked at the cemetery for 19 years, starting as a grounds equipment operator, the became grounds supervisor, and three years ago, became superintendent. He supervises a crew of three — grounds supervisor Kent Kreller, Kyle Labee and Chris Hanson.

“They bust their butts and they have a great pride in their job,” Velazquez said. “They understand what the cemetery represents and the community support that we have.”

Velazquez, who has an uncle and grandfather in the cemetery, calls the job he and his crew do a blessing.

“it’s not just somewhere we show up to work, it’s somewhere we have the opportunity to take care of our veterans, veterans’ loved ones, our future veterans,” he said. “It means a lot and we’re truly blessed to be able to call this our job.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *