ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Mark Bipes, director, Medical Service Corps Reserve, spoke at the Military and Veterans Day Ceremony held at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque, Sept. 11 as part of Albuquerque Navy Week.
In his remarks, Bipes, thanked veterans who had served in past wars such as World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
“Thank you from the Navy, thank you from the military and thank you from a grateful country for what you did to ensure our peace and security that we still enjoy today,” said Bipes. “And thank you for setting the example of what it takes to be of selfless service to your country.”
Bipes went on to recall his first experience with veterans as a young child, watching young men older than him going off to war and returning afterwards to pick up regular jobs as humble heroes to their country.
As the official ceremony began, Navy Band Northwest performed the national anthem for the audience as the USS Constitution color guard paraded the colors.
The Gold Star Mothers also spoke during the ceremony, asking the crowd for a time of silence as they read off the list of local veterans who had fallen in battle during recent years.
State Senator William Payne, also in attendance, paid his respects after the ceremony was concluded explaining Albuquerque’s considerable support of the military.
“We have great support of the Navy League, of the veterans services people” said Payne, “and we have an active community. Any veteran out there looking for a good place to retire, it’s hard to beat the climate in Albuquerque.”
Beyond the ceremony, numerous Sailors were out and about, walking around the state fair, providing presentations for fairgoers.
“It’s quite an honor to be welcomed as someone from here,” said Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class William Young, a Sailor assigned to Fleet Weather Center San Diego. “It very much makes me feel part of the community, part of this area which I’ve really fallen in love with, and being able to represent the Navy here in a place that doesn’t get a whole lot of visibility, it’s really special.”
Young is a recent transplant to Albuquerque, with his family moving there in the last couple years. As a hometown Sailor, Young has had the opportunity to tour numerous public schools and conduct interviews with news media regarding his role in the Navy.
John Gallegos, one of the official state fair photographers and retired military veteran, commented on the importance of the ceremonies and specifically Albuquerque Navy Week.
“It gets more exposure for the Navy, and all of the services,” said Gallegos. “It’s the type of exposure you can’t get anywhere and it’s very positive. Military people are kids’ heroes and I like that.”
Directly following the Military and Veteran’s Day ceremony, a 9/11 First Responder Ceremony was also held within the fairgrounds, recognizing firefighters, police men and women and emergency personnel who had given their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Cmdr. James Morrow, commanding officer of Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN-779), spoke during the ceremony commemorating the heroic efforts of those who responded to 9/11.
“On September 11, 2001 first responders in New York, Pennsylvania and our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., epitomized selflessness in character and for that they should have our lasting respect,” said Morrow.
He went on to describe the Navy’s recognition of these sacrifices, sharing stories of ships taking the namesake of the three different crash sites from 9/11, including amphibious transport dock USS New York which had the metal from the World Trade Center wreckage melted down and cast into its bow.
The ceremony had a considerable turnout with a large crowd forming around the periphery, paying their respects to the first responders and military in attendance.
For more information about Albuquerque Navy Week visit http://www.outreach.navy.mil/Navy-Weeks/Albuquerque/