A large population of veterans lives in Pahrump, Nevada. Veterans have received very little recognition there — until now.
Nearly a quarter of the people living in Pahrump are veterans, or about 10,000 veterans. Now, a proud bunch of them have come together to make sure that is part of Pahrump’s identity.
A lonely corner of the Chief Tecopa Cemetery is home to graves and tattered flags.
“Our cemetery in the past was kind of forgotten in a way,” said Reggie Knight, a retired Marine. “These are men who have served their country and have died for democracy.”
Knight wants to make the Chief Tecopa Cemetery his final resting place, and he’s not alone in a fight for more than fading flags. “We have a good group of guys that work together and we operate together very well.”
The Marine Corp league has plans fit for heroes. In two years, they’ve conquered donations of land, concrete to cover it, block to raise walls and even an old tank to defend it. It’s not done yet, but on May 28th it will be close.
“I think that it’s good for all veterans to kind of heal themselves. It is a healing place for us veterans and this is what it means to me,” Knight said.
For most towns, one memorial would be enough, but not Pahrump. Hundreds of people see Reggie and other veterans at what was supposed to be only a temporary memorial at Wal-Mart’s entrance.
Kevin Pape, Pahrump Wal-Mart manager, said, “I don’t think any of us realized what we were getting into.”
Pape explains that after community uproar last year, he agreed to leave it up to commemorate military serving now. “I got it. I got it loud and clear, bigger, better badder. We are going to take the pictures down, paint the walls over and we will make it right.”
Desert Storm veteran, Mark Boyer said, “It’s honorable to me. It is the greatest thing in the world. It works on your heart, it pounds on our heart.”
Now the town where memories were fading has not one, but two permanent memorials. The movement to post pictures of service members in the Pahrump Wal-Mart is growing.
And Las Vegas is following Pahrump’s lead. The Wal-Mart at Decatur and West Charleston now has a similar permanent memorial. There’s also been some talk of having a city-sponsored veterans memorial at Huntridge Circle Park.