Last week, I let you all down. I attended the Memorial Day ceremony at Isidro Baca Park and was moved to tears. Your war dead were mine for the time; my military family upbringing connected me to Socorro’s lost soldiers and their families. Even though I never knew them, I missed those young men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, for our freedom. The bright blue day, the speeches, the flags and the salutes—all for those we miss.

Yes, I was working for the Chieftain, taking photos to capture the day for the pages of the newspaper. I made a rookie mistake, however, and did not check my camera settings. The results were white blurry images, unprintable and unretrievable even in this day of high tech and my own photo wizard, assistant editor Russell Huffman. I missed the opportunity to show you what I saw through the viewfinder.

Let me try and recreate some of that in words. I saw multiple generations of Socorroans. I saw your beautiful children and grandchildren, carrying flags and realizing that the day was important somehow. I saw active-duty servicemen, city and state leaders, volunteer organizers. I saw the Civil Air Patrol rifle squad, the bagpipers and the veterans. I heard “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Amazing Grace” and “Taps,” the sharp reports of the 21-gun salute, and the fond murmurs of the Pledge of Allegiance.

I saw a community, showing gratitude and grief, honoring country and flag. It was beautiful and I was so proud to be part of it. I’m sorry that I goofed up and that we all missed seeing the photos. But it doesn’t take away how Socorroans feel about the day and about those soldiers. “We remember…” as State Rep. Tara Jaramillo repeated, “we remember.”

Looking ahead to later this month, I am eager to see all of the pets in our June 29 issue of the Chieftain when we present the Pet Parade. Imagine if we could trot them all out to the plaza for a real parade? That might be a little chaotic, so we have the next best thing.

Send us photos of your puppy, kitty, guinea pig, rabbit, chicken, lamb, horse, goldfish, lizard… whatever critter you call “pet,” and we will run it together with all creatures great and small from the Socorro area. The cost is $15, and $5 of that will go directly to the Socorro Animal Shelter and Adoption Center. If you want to participate in this fun but important fundraiser, check out the guidelines on page 5 of this issue. The deadline to get photos and payments in is June 15—that’s one week from today. I’m currently pet-less so I’m looking forward to seeing all of your loveable animals, whether finny, scaly, fluffy or furry. Bring it on!

Jay Ann Cox, El Defensor Chieftain Editor