First responders monument is dedicated in Clifton

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: A  new and unique flag is displayed at the Aug. 25 dedication of a first responders monument at Clifton’s Veterans Park. The red represents firefighters, the blue law enforcement, and the up and down line emergency medical services.  The three men holding the flag represent Greenlee County Emergency Medical Services, Clifton Fire Department, and Clifton Police Department. The flag now flies above the monument.

Monument gives credit where credit is due

By Walt Mares

CLIFTON – There is a new monument in Clifton’s Veterans Park. As are the others there, it is made of native stone. and there is a rough-hewn beauty about it. 

There is also a new flag quite unlike those that already fly there. The flag and monument honor Greenlee County’s first responders: firefighters, law enforcement and emergency medical services. 

The monument was dedicated and the new flag raised at a Saturday morning, Aug. 25, ceremony that included representatives from the Clifton Police Department, Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office, Clifton Fire Department, and the Greenlee County Emergency Medical Services. The largest contingent was that of firefighters.

The monument was the brainchild of Joe Nafarrate of the Mares Bluff Veterans Memorial Committee, which paid for its construction and the shiny gray plaque embedded at the front of the structure. The monument was built by local artisan Jose Sigala.

The very original and unusual flag has stars on its upper left-hand corner. The body of the flag has a red stripe honoring firefighters and a blue stripe significant signifying law enforcement. Emergency medical services are represented by a white line that runs across the width of the flag. The erratic line is like that of a heartbeat pattern shown on the screen of an oscilloscope (heartbeat monitor).

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: A monument honoring first responders is flanked by, from left, Clifton Police Chief Omar Negrete, Greenlee County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Mennen, Clifton police officer Clayton Terrazas, and Greenlee County Sheriff’s deputies Donovan Rook and Jeromy Vaughn. The monument’s dedication was held Aug. 25 at Clifton’s Veterans Park.

The Mares Bluff Committee President kicked off the ceremony telling of the monument’s purpose and the significance of honoring first responders “who deserve a lot of credit. He said later in an interview, “We decided  to build the monument for first responders because they are not given the credit they deserve.”

Nafarrate added, “We feel it’s very important to give recognition to first responders for all that they do for the community. I think they’re often taken for granted and many people don’t realize how much they give to the community. What would we do without them?”

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: Firefighters from the Clifton Fire Department stand together at the Aug. 25 dedication of a monument honoring First Responders. They are, from left, Esteban Mesa, Brian Brinkley, ( Dwayne Turner, Ernesto Talavera MFA ), Damian Rivera , Robert Pollock, Tim Guzzo, Rick Varela, Roy Lee Wyatt, Steven Madrid, Hector Morales, Pete Ortega, Shaun Seballos, Josh Sandoval, Jacob Munoz , Mike Basteen, James Hallgrimson and Jose Rodriguez .

The Mares Bluff Veterans Memorial Committee honors those who have served honorably in the military and those or are presently serving. One need not have served in combat necessary to have a replica dog tag to be included on the cables from which the tags are hung. There is an emphasis that the bluff is not at all a memorial to war but to honor all the who serve their country.

                                                           Heroes at home

Guzzo, who along with Nafarrate is a Vietnam War veteran, said there is a connection between those serving in the military and First Responders at home. Those in the service may be looked upon as heroes. After all, they are making a great sacrifice just by being apart from their families. Being in the service may also mean being in harm’s way, in a situation that is dangerous and quite possibly deadly. 

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: First responders enjoy a light moment and a meal at the Morenci Clifton Post 28 American Legion Hall in Clifton. The Legion’s Women’s Auxiliary provided a sumptuous meal of enchiladas, beans, salad, dessert, and refreshments for first responders and members of the public. The meal was described by many as “very, very good,” or “darn good.”

What about what is happening back home? Thankfully, there are heroes at home such as first responders. They, too, make personal sacrifices and face danger, said Guzzo.

“Those in the military leave their families and all of their loved ones in the hands of first responders to be protected by them,” Guzzo said.  “That’s something we should be very aware of and appreciate. That, to me, is as important as serving one’s country. We’ve got to be aware of and remember all that first responders do for us.”


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