Monuments to be dedicated Memorial Day at Clifton Veterans Park

Photo By Walt Mares: Clifton stonemason and artisan Jose Sigala, left is assisted by Joe Nafarrate on May 18 as he finishes putting finishing touches on a memorial at Veterans Park in Clifton. The memorial lists and honors all those who died while serving their country, from World War I to most recent conflicts and wars. The memorial will be one of two dedicated on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28. The public is invited to attend the ceremony that begins at 10 a.m.

Months-long sales of Mares Bluff burgers making it possible 

By Walt Mares

It has taken time, patience and a great deal of hard work. It involves the Mares Bluff Veterans Memorial Committee selling enough hamburgers over a period of several months to raise more than $8,000. And for what? To raise enough money to erect two monuments and a gazebo at Veterans Park in Clifton.

Photo By Walt Mares: Flags fly above one of the new memorials to be dedicated at Clifton’s Veterans Park on Memorial DayThe memorial honors those from Greenlee County who made the ultimate sacrifice and were Killed In Action from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and all subsequent wars. The Mares Bluff Veterans Memorial Committee recently erected the monument.

But wait, there’s more. Among the Bluff Committee’s civic activities, one student from Duncan High School and one from Morenci High are each receiving a $1,200 college scholarship.

The monuments will be dedicated at a 10 a.m. ceremony at Veterans Park on Memorial Day. The public is invited to attend. Clifton stone mason and artisan Jose Sigala built the monuments using native stone. He was assisted by various members of the Mares Bluff Committee.

The first monument was erected in December honoring those who served in wars – World Wars I and II, Korean and Vietnam; and expeditions, some which involved action in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Granada and Southwest Asia as well as other global hot spots.

The second monument, whose construction was completed last week, honors all of those from Greenlee County who were Killed in Action from World War I to the most recent wars. Its appearance is very striking.

The newer monument lists names carved on a long, vertical slab of black granite. On each side of the structure are quotes by President John F. Kennedy, and President Harry S. Truman. They are particularly fitting as both men were U.S. Armed Forces veterans. 

Truman served during WWI and Kennedy in WWII. Their quotes, rendered In large letters, are also carved in black granite. Kennedy’s quote is from his 1960 inauguration.

Photo By Walt Mares: Vietnam veteran Steve Guzzo and the late Clifton Mayor Felix Callicotte hold a document in which the Town of Clifton honors the Mares Bluff Veterans Memorial Committee for its work in greatly improving Veterans Park. That includes the monument in front of which they are standing. It was erected in December 2017. From left are Mares Bluff Memorial Committee members John Freida, Guzzo, and Jose Nafarrate. At far right is Clifton stonemason and artisan Jose Sigala, who built the monument. It will be dedicated, along with another recently constructed memorial on Memorial Day, May 28. Callicotte strongly supported veterans’ efforts in improving the park and other civic activities.

There will be guest speakers from WWII, Korean and Vietnam. WWI occurred a century ago, in the early 1900s, and there is no local living veteran to speak about personal experiences during WWI. It  was known as “The Great War” and “The War to end all Wars.” Unfortunately, it was not the end of all wars.

Along with the ceremony dedicating both monuments, a free lunch will be provided to all those in attendance. 

Photo By Walt Mares: The sale of hamburgers over several months by the Mares Bluff Veterans Memorial Committee has paid for the erection of two veterans memorial and a gazebo and table at Veterans Park in Clifton. The group raised more than $8,000 to pay for the projects. Here Steve Guzzo cooks Bluff Burgers at Veterans Park and is assisted by Joe Nafarrate during a recent burger sales, which is becoming increasingly popular. Guzzo and Nafarrate are both Vietnam veterans,

Steve Guzzo of the Mares Bluff Committee pointed out that there are many in the community who have helped make possible the monuments and other improvements at the park. A $900 donation was received from the Clifton-Morenci Reunion group from the classes of 1966-67. Jackie Norton, owner of PJ’s Restaurant in Clifton, donated $100 for the Gazebo, and Guzzo said there are many others who have donated in “modest” but “very important” amounts.

“We are very grateful to everyone in the community who has helped to make this all possible,” he said. “That certainly includes those who buy our hamburgers.” 

The Bluff Burger sales have built quite a following. They are sold, usually every other week, on Thursdays, at Veterans Park. Last week alone, an order for 16 burgers was received around lunchtime. Sales run from about 11 a.m. until all burgers are sold, often around 2:30 p.m.