The annual remembrance ceremony was held yesterday in downtown Columbus under the auspices of the Columbus Historical Society (CHS) and within their dedicated memorial park behind their well-known “Depot Museum.”
CHS President, Shirley Garber lead the ceremony which featured Professor Brandon Morgan,whose presentation was entitled: “Protector and Aggressor: Pancho Villa’s Complicated Relationship with the Lower Mimbres Valley.“
Visitors came from as far as Kansas, Washington (state), and several from El Paso, Texas, as well.
The CHS always holds its service on the exact date of the tragic raid, regardless of which day of the week on which that date falls, whereas Columbus itself, holds their Raid Day events over the closest weekend to that date of March 9, 1916, assuring working families can make the occasion. Next year, in 2024, the date of the actual raid will fall on a Saturday, which will mean the attendees will number in at least the hundreds.
Yesterday’s turnout was estimated to be just short of 60 people. This weekend the renowned “Cabalgata Binacional,” traditionally witnesses a large group of Horsemen and women coming up from Mexico to meet with hundreds of horsemen and women from the states. It’s an across-the-border celebration less of the raid, and more about the kinship and closeness of the sister nations. As in recent years past, the large public event is directed by its principal organizer and promoter, Norma Gomez, who is the landlord for the FASF headquarters Office in Columbus. The celebratory occasion is usually attended by several thousand celebrants.
The following photos are of yesterday’s Memorial Service:
Richardand Elizabeth Pendleton in the foreground speaking with John Tyo
L to R: Allen Rosenberg(an ex-Marine!), in a 1916 Army uniform, joking with Corby Burns, and Patricia Kiddney
CHS Officers and distinguished guests on the Gazebo for the Ceremony – with Professor Brandon Morganat Podium
Audience gathering in readiness to hear the program
After the ceremony concluded, Steven Zobeck (L) and Dr. Kathleen Martin (R) look on as Dr. Morgan shakes hands with Pancho Villa look-alike re-enactor, Rafael Celestino
L to R: Rafael Celestino, Patricia Kiddney, Head Columbus Librarian, Maria Constantine, and Columbus C of C Director,Norma Gomezpose with Darrel Nash (R), Historian for the famed Buffalo Soldiersof the Punitive Expedition – Normahad just presented the Environmental Book Chihuahua to the Library, courtesy of the Mexican Government.
L to R: Maria Constantineand Norma Gomezdiscuss the Buffalo Soldiers museum and the soldiers’ organization with Darrel Nash
After several less than exciting false starts, Mayor Salas‘ idea of starting a new day on which Columbus will celebrate it beginnings – now called Founding Day – was a great success two weekends ago. If you’d like to guess when that historic date was, just go to the end of the post/story.
Other old time FASF members in addition to Mayor Salasalso played an active role in helping the event go over the top. July McClure, our Recording Secretary and Aerodrome Editor busily entertained the crowds at the East end of town in front of her Tumbleweed Theater. Another long-time member and major donor, our FASF landlord, Norma Gomez,also answered many questions thrown her way by a number of festival attendees as well as participants and caballeros. Your Webmaster took the Mayor aside for a five minute interview about the event, which appears below. Click in the lower right of the screen to view the video full-size.
All in all, the festive celebration was a genuine step back in time to the late 19th Century, when the streets of Columbus were as actively used by horses as by its citizens. Here are some photos taken of the occasion. If you’d like to see them full size and in high resolution, simply click on them:
FASF Office the Chamber of Commerce (White Building) & Tumbleweed Theater (yellow)
Looking West along Broadway Avenue
This was back then, above – and below is today: 1916-Ravel Bros. Mercantile Store Downtown Columbus
City Hall and Sheriff’s Office complex
A look down Broadway to the West in 1916
Broadway blocked off for the Horse Parade- Looking to the West
To East: The Railroad Depot and the railroad to El Paso in 1916 – Today’s Depot is the Historical Society’s Museum. Today that railroad is the bed for NM State Route 9 to El Paso, Texas!
Columbus Court House
Former Mayor Philip Skinner’s Los Milagros Hotel
Celebrants and horsemen chatting outside the Restored Senior Center Facility
View inside the Senior Center where Free lunch was provided for all . . .
Sheriff’s Team Joined the party in the Park
Visitors enjoying lunch outside the Borderland Cafe
After the parade there were still many horses to be loaded for their trip home . . .unless they were among those who rode to Columbus. COLUMBUS WAS FOUNDED ON JUNE 18, 1891!
L to R: Background are Bill Armendariz – Editor in Chief of the Deming Headlight newspaper, Maria Jimenez of Casas Grandes, Mexico, and Alma Villezcas, FASF Treasurer; in foreground are (L to R) July McClure, FASF Aerodrome Editor and John Readretired Mgr. of Pancho Villa State Park.Before his retirement last month, Johnmade all the arrangements for the upcoming RAID DAY events at the local New Mexico State Park.
This past Friday, key members of the 2019 Raid Day Planning Committee met at the famous Palomas, Mexico “PINK STORE” (longtime commercial supporter of the FASF!) to discuss the upcoming annual RAID DAY event in Columbus. The below photos capture most of the participants.
The majority of the group are all long time active members of the FASF.
This year the memorial event, which commemorates the disastrous raid on the town of Columbus, NM, by Mexican Revolutionary General Francisco “Pancho” Villa, a tragedy which took the lives of some 18 innocent Americans, will fall on a Saturday, March 9th.
Some 1500 of the Villistas (as Villa’s troops became known) attacked the sleeping village under cover of darkness that fateful day. In response to this attack, then US President Wilson ordered US Army General “Black Jack” Pershingto organize the “Punitive Expedition” as a means of capturing or destroying Villa in retaliation for the attack. It was this Expeditionary force that gave rise to the first US Military deployment in sustained combat circumstances of two new weapons: The Airplane and the Motorized ground vehicle.
Thus, the incident saw the launching of the World’s Greatest Air Power in the small rural community of Columbus, NM. There will be many events taking place on RAID DAY, from public historical presentations at both Pancho Villa State Park and at the Columbus Library.
FASF President, Ric Lambart, will conduct a slide and video presentation at the Library at 9:30 AM entitled “How Pancho Villa Saved the United States.” Three historian experts on the Raid will make their presentations starting at 1:00 PM at the Pancho Villa State Park Recreation Hall.
The traditional RAID DAY Cabalgata Binacional, where horsemen (and women) from deep in Mexico ride into Columbus to join with hundreds of American riders, coming down from the North, will begin to enter the Village Plaza at approximately 11:00 AM.
The Columbus Historical Society (CHS), under the leadership of local Historian, Richard Dean (whose grandfather was one of the civilians killed by the Villistas), will also hold its own traditional solemn Memorial Service at the Society’s Depot Museum at 10:00 AM.
The joining of the Mexican and American riders is an annual gesture of the peace and goodwill now in effect between the two nations. All throughout the town, there will be vendors supplying Mexican and American food. There will also be entertainment by local musicians, such as the FASF’s own July McClure, along with Mariachi bands, and traditional Mexican folkloric dancers. There will be much to see at this always well-attended event.
In background (L to R),, John Read discussing plans with July McClure and Headlight Editor,Bill Armendariz.
L to R above: John Read speaking with (standing) Raul Martinez, Cabalgata Parade Marshall and CEO of the Pancho Villa Development Corporation. The Pink Store waiter is speaking to Norma Gomez, RAID DAY and CABALGATA EVENT organizer and Columbus Chamber of Commerce Secretary. July McClure is enjoying her lunch and Bill Armendarizgets some event information from Norma.
The above photo of the planners was taken by Bill Armendariz. L to R: Ric Lambart, John Read, Raul Martinez, JulyMcClure, Norma Gomez, Alma’s visiting guest from her home down in Mexico, Sra. Maria Jimenez and Alma Villezcas in the foreground.