When the 2020 Armed Forces Day festivities were canceled in Hawthorne, it was a big blow to a town that prides itself as America’s Patriotic Home. On the third weekend of May for the last 70 years, the town is filled to the brim with residents of the past and present that all come together for a variety of reasons, most importantly honoring our military.
This year, however, will be a whole lot different as what would have been the 70th year of the event was wiped out due to the coronavirus pandemic that has taken over the world. It was the first of many big events in the area that have been canceled, including the Reno Rodeo in June and Yerington’s Night in the Country in July.
For residents of Mineral County, this is their one big event of the year that highlights the uniqueness of the county and reunites family and old friends. Over the years the festivities and events have gotten larger and would usually begin on Friday evening at one of the local bars where there was always a contest or two to participate in, or over at the El Capitan where they would be a fireworks display to kick off the weekend at dusk.
Some would stay out late and wake up early Saturday for the pancake and sausage breakfast at the Elks Lodge before heading over the the airport to check out the static display, while others would browse one of the many booths on Main Street before grabbing their favorite spot on the sidewalk for the parade that always starts exactly at noon. The fun wouldn’t stop there, as there was plenty of live entertainment and games to take part in Saturday afternoon and evening before riding out of town on Sunday.
This year, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall was set to return to Hawthorne for the first time in a decade, but Armed Forces Day chair Gloria Lopez said they plan to bring it to town in 2021.
Despite all of the fun that comes with Armed Forces weekend in Mineral County, the message of what the event was about was never lost on revelers. El Capitan general manager Glenn Carns echoed that sentiment when asked about the cancelation of Hawthorne’s biggest weekend.
“Although the AFD Events are canceled for 2020, we all need to stop and thank a veteran or current man or women serving for all they are doing and have given for our freedom,” Carns said.
Armed Forces Day was first observed on May 20, 1950 as a way to honor Americans serving in the five United States military branches.
This would have been its 70th year in Mineral County, but that will have to wait until 2021 now when the committee and residents hope the celebration will be the best one yet.