Gallup, NM: The Most Patriotic Small Town in America

by Kenneth Riege

John Wayne frequented it while filming numerous movies.  Bob Dylan once claimed he was from here.  Nat King Cole and John Mayer have sung about it in “Route 66.”   Gallup, New Mexico is a unique hub of culture. Often called the “Indian Capital of the United States” it draws from these cultures, making our community a stronger and a more interesting place to live.

Gallup is steeped in history and traditions and “Gallupians” (as we proudly call ourselves) stand together to protect what’s right.  Never was this more evident than during WWII as many American citizens of Japanese Ancestry were being transported from communities across the United States to war relocation camps. However, Gallup stood strong and said “NO” to this order.  We protected our citizens and our community.  This is commonly referred to as being “Gallup Strong.”

From the Spanish American War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “Gallupians” have answered the “call to duty” and have served in all five branches of the armed forces protecting our families, our community, and our way of life.  Gallup has been shaped by its praiseworthy and historic veterans, including the Navajo Code Talkers and Medal of Honor Recipient, Mr. Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura.

During WWII, the United States created communication codes for battle, but these codes were continuously broken, until the Navajo Code Talkers used their language to create an unbreakable code.  Their code helped bring an end to the bloody battles in the Pacific saving thousands of lives on both sides.  Gallup’s population is primarily Native Americans many of which are direct decedents of the Code Talkers.  This direct blood line and our deep patriotic spirit explain why so many young men and women join the military straight out of high school.  Another fine example of being “Gallup Strong.”

codetalkersIn Korea on April 24 – 25, 1951 Hershey held off wave after wave of enemy soldiers while protecting the lives of hundreds of American’s without regard to his own.  Hershey is “Gallup Strong.” These actions earned Hershey the Medal of Honor, but Hershey still endured more than two and a half years in a POW Camp. Hershey credited his faith, love of country and obligation to his community for his survival.   Gallup has recognized his heroic acts and significant contributions to the community by honoring him as the namesake of one of the local high schools, an overpass and a park.

hersheyandpresident

Another great example of being “Gallup Strong” is the Veterans Helping Veterans organization.  This group was formed by veterans to assist other veterans and our community.  Whether it’s raising money for a veterans by “passing the hat” at meetings to help with a utility bill or rent, to hosting large “Stand Downs” which are 1 to 3 days events providing assistance to homeless veterans.

Gallup’s patriotism can be seen everywhere.  In our Veterans Memorial Plaza stand 12 pillars with the names of those who have selflessly served and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Our patriotism can be seen in the WWII veteran struggling to come to attention as a flag passes to our children who respectfully refer to the American Flag as “Ten Hut.”  It’s in our blood, it’s our heritage, and it’s who we are:  it’s being “Gallup Strong.”

“Gallupians” young and old rejoice in knowing the best way to honor and respect those who have fought for our freedoms is to enjoy every day to its fullest and to never take these freedoms for granted.  This is what patriotism is all about:  that is being “Gallup Strong.”

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