The people of Gallup take seriously their 2014 designation by a national travel company as the most patriotic small town in America.
No one takes it more seriously than Kenneth Riege, who has turned the lobby and conference room of his Comfort Suites hotel into a veterans and military service memorial that features items such as photos of Navajo Code Talkers and memorabilia donated by veterans over the years.
One of the features is a plaque with the names of the approximately 130 Gallup-area residents killed in America’s military conflicts going back to World War I through the war on terror, along with blank dog tags with their names written on them.
The hotel display has become a popular destination for people passing through Gallup who have an interest in military history.
Riege, who served in the Air Force and moved to Gallup after he got out of the service, was honored with a “New Mexico True Hero” award in 2016.
He is a close friend of Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi Miyamura and helps him with logistics and travel for speaking engagements – something he considers an honor.
As for the display: “I just wanted to do something to honor those who have served.”