By Eric Dahlberg
For the first time in 70 years, the streets of Hawthorne will be quiet on the third weekend of May this year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the current measures in place, the annual Armed Forces Day celebration has been canceled.
The AFD committee made the announcement on Facebook last week after deliberating with local officials.
“Due to the social distance mandate placed on each of us by the governor of Nevada as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it has become necessary to cancel the 2020 Armed Forces Day event,” the post said. “This decision was not an easy one as this event touches each of us, but at this time we have to think safety.”
This year was set to be a big one as it was the 70th year of the event. With all of the uncertainty surrounding the current situation in our nation and state, a decision was made to outright cancel the festivities rather than postpone them. Therefore, the 70th annual event will now take place in 2021. It’s the first known time it has ever been canceled in Mineral County.
“We had our regular committee meeting last Tuesday with commissioner Garth Price in attendance, and made the call to pull out altogether due to safety reasons,” said Armed Forces Day chairperson Gloria Lopez. “We can’t take any chances right now and are looking out for the safety of our community.”
Armed Forces Day was first observed on May 20, 1950 as a way to honor Americans serving in the five United States military branches. It always falls on the third Saturday of May, and for most cities it’s just a one day celebration.
However, for America’s Patriotic Home in Hawthorne, the festivities begin on Friday and last into Sunday, and bring in thousands of people to town for reunions and gatherings. For some, it’s a family reunion of sorts and is the one time a year they return home.
The Facebook post had 44 comments and 164 shares as of Tuesday afternoon, and many echoed the same sentiment of feeling upset about the cancellation, but also understanding the reasons behind it.
“I’m so sad. I love coming home to see so many friends,” said Vickie Marshall Rice.
“Totally sad, such a big deal for Hawthorne,” Judy Yocum said. “We will be there next year with bells on!”
Others rallied behind the community and looked forward to next year.
“So sad it has come to this, but as a community we will stand strong,” wrote Connie Ellis-Martin. “We have come together, helped our friends and families and neighbors. This is who we are as people. This is Hawthorne. Next year’s Armed Forces will be one for the books!!!”
The Armed Forces Day celebration was set to begin as early as May 8 with a talent show, followed by the Miss AFD pageants. People typically would begin to roll into town on Friday, May 15, to enjoy the chili cook-off, food vendors and other events put on by local bars and businesses. The highlight of the weekend would have been the annual parade that was set to begin down Main Street at noon on Saturday.
The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall was scheduled to come to Hawthorne that weekend as well for the first time in nearly a decade, but Lopez said plans are already in place for it to return in 2021.
Cutline: The 69th annual Armed Forces Day parade moves down Main Street last May. The event has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.