American Patriots Unsung Magazine Issue 6 - Page 72

73 The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Grand Opening of the Arizona facility was MC’d by Robert Vera and included Keynote Speaker, Navy SEAL /Medal of Honor Recipient Senior Chief Edward Byers. 72 and applauded, many with eyes welling tears of pride. It was the type of applause where the audience desired more, the type of applause that felt inadequate in trade for the words that were shared. It was, however, all the crowd had; humble and grateful applause. As the inspired audience settled back into their seats, Delane Enos of the Gila River Indian Community walked to the stage and performed a native blessing of the land. His rhythmic song seemed to synchronize with our heartbeats and the pulse of the land. He waved a two-foot-long eagle feather and wafted smoke from a smudge bowl that he held in his hand. A blanket of calm seemed to rest over the ranch as he finished. Later that night Delane called to ask for Senior Chief Byers’ phone number. He wanted to speak to him about “what showed up” when Byers was speaking. Delane told me, “There was a sign, I saw it, it was meant for him.” The event closed with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a proclamation issued by the Governor of Arizona officially naming November 30, 2017 as Combat Stress Recovery Day in the State of Arizona. The proclamation was read by retired US Air Force Colonel Wanda Wright, Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services. “The event was so authentic, the emotions were real, the beautiful ranch, the organization’s mission, together everything made the event one of the most powerful experiences of my life,” recalled Angie Laskarides, Regional Director of the Arizona Community Foundation. JAY DOBYNS