BOULDER CITY — Squatting on the hot pavement, Lea Tiso sobs into her chest as she holds the stone wall above her head. She keeps her hand there, fingers pressed softly against the smooth surface as if she were cupping her husband’s cheek. But she’s holding only his name scratched into the surface, letters painted black:
“TISO, PATRICK F.
At the racetrack”
The wall – one of many – is covered in rows of the same style of plaque, each with different names, different dates and different wars. Personal messages and remembrances. A sea of scribbles.
“I’ve been here many times, but it’s my first Memorial Day. It’s heart-wrenching,” said Tiso, alone on the pavement while others gather up the hill, past hundreds of grave markers and little American flags stabbed into the grass.
Gov. Brian Sandoval was there, addressing a few hundred people in the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery main building.
“This cemetery is, of course, sacred ground,” Sandoval said of the final resting place of 133,000 Nevada veterans. “We remember them, and too many like them, who died for our nation.”
Army Staff Sgt. Mark Dowd knows of that sacrifice, having served in Operation Enduring Freedom. He lost two brothers there. He advises everyone to remember that the United States right now has 165,000 military personnel serving in 150 countries.
Nevada residents “can and must show them our appreciation,” Sandoval told the Memorial Day crowd. That’s why the state is working on the first veterans home in northern Nevada, making for a much needed addition to the one in Boulder City, he said. The state’s veteran suicide prevention council and an interagency council of veteran affairs have also been created, he notes.
“2014 is the year of the veteran in the state of Nevada,” he said. “I’m excited about the opportunities ahead.”
Back at the wall, Tiso has gathered herself. She fixes a flag into the pebbles below her husband’s name and walks to the car after meeting her friend, Karen Troiano, another widow of a Vietnam veteran. Her, John, husband died April 6.
She usually comes here at night. It brings her peace, as it does Tiso.
“It’s peaceful, beautiful,” Tiso says. “We’re coming here too. That’s nice to know.”
Not far from the marker for Tiso’s husband, the plaques are smooth and bare
Contact Trevon Milliard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0279. Find him on Twitter: @TrevonMilliard.