Albuquerque Auctions Art to Honor 86-Year-Old Veteran
By James E. Lucero, New Mexico State Chair
Bob Nordstrom (right) presents artwork to 86-year-old Dennis Land, the oldest veteran at the 2017 Albuquerque Chapter banquet.
The Albuquerque Chapter held its annual fundraising banquet on March 18, 2017. It was the usual hustle and bustle Saturday preparing for another fun night to raise money for elk and all wildlife. While deciding the live auction lineup, our auctioneer John Nelson, owner of Open Buckle Auction Services out of Salmon, Idaho, came up to me and made a suggestion regarding one particular item.
It was a piece of metal artwork featuring a flag and an eagle. John explained to me that he had a plan about how to sell this particular item, given its patriotic theme. He wanted to place it as the last item of the evening during the live auction. He would have every veteran at the banquet stand up and would do a basic age countdown until we found the oldest veteran in the room. Once that veteran was identified, John would announce that we were going to auction off the metal art and the highest bidder was going to present that piece to the oldest veteran in the room as a gift of thanks for serving our country. I loved the idea.
The night went right along, and almost 600 people came out. I was getting more and more excited about our little plan. When the time finally came, John set it in motion. He held the attention of everyone in the room as he explained how this would play out.
He asked all the veterans to please stand up. About 60 men and women stood, the youngest in their mid-30s. Then he said, “Every veteran in the room under the age of 40, please sit down.” Then 50, 60, all the way up until only one person remained—86-year-old Dennis Land, a United States Army veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne Division. The room went crazy, whooping and hollering and standing up cheering. When John opened the bidding, it happened so fast you couldn’t keep track of who was in the lead. We raised $2,000 for elk country!
Once the dust settled, Bob Nordstrom—a longtime RMEF supporter, life member, and past state chair—was the high bidder. The crowd went crazy again as Bob made his way to the front of the stage, took the piece of art and presented it to Dennis. The standing ovation that followed was very inspirational and moving. I saw lots of eyes well up—not only the veterans in the crowd but lots of other people too.
At the end of the night, one of the guests approached me. She said this was the first time she and her husband had attended a RMEF banquet.
“It was very moving to see all of these men and women who serve our country being honored with a standing ovation from everyone in the room,” Yvonne Patterson said. “It was especially touching to find out that the gentleman who purchased the artwork was a veteran himself. Watching him present it to the oldest veteran in the room, as both stood with proud smiles, was extremely heartwarming.”
That was the most amazing banquet I have ever attended—and, as state chair, that’s saying something.