Bataan Memorial Death March on March 17 In Las Cruces New Mexico
The Bataan Death March happened on April 9, 1942, when the U.S and Filipinos surrendered the Bataan Peninsula on the Philippine island of Luzon to the Japanese during the Second World War. Around 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers were forced to march 65 miles to the prison camps, with Japanese soldiers treating their prisoners harshly every step of the way. Thousands perished in what we now know today as the Bataan Death March.
What is Bataan Memorial Death March
The Bataan Memorial Death March is a yearly commemoration of this arduous march. Survivors, as well as their families, friends, and others who wish to be part of the annual marathon can participate at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Bataan prisoners who managed to survive the ordeal typically greet the marathon runners at the end of the line. This race welcomes everyone, with a significant number of marathoners being among the United States military and foreign armed forces. The race can take several hours with beginner marchers taking 12 hours to complete the course.
Where is the Bataan Memorial Death March
The Bataan Memorial Death March takes place on the desert terrain of the White Sands Missile range in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It’s composed of 26 miles of high desert which is less than half of the distance that the soldiers walked in 1942 at Bataan. The White Sands Missile Base, composed of desert trails and hot temperature, is somewhat reminiscent of the conditions that the soldiers experienced.
When Did the Bataan Memorial Death March Start?
The Bataan Memorial Death March began in 1989 where it was sponsored by the Army ROTC Department at New Mexico State University. The memorial march was designed to commemorate the sacrifices of their fellow Americans who lost their lives during the March. The White Sands Missile Range, as well as the New Mexico National Guard, joined in sponsoring the event in 1992.
The Bataan Memorial Death March grows each year. Since its start, it has increased from approximately 100 to 8,000 participants. The marathon honors those heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II. From veterans to survivors to the public, all are welcomed to relieve the experience and to honor the fallen soldiers. After the race, you can enjoy the comforts and sights offered by Las Cruces which are sure to make your stay here that more memorable. From amazing sights, wonderous museums, fine markets, and excellent dining, and fantastic nightlife, you will find plenty of things to do in Las Cruces.
Things to Do In Las Cruces Before or After the Race
After watching or participating in the Bataan Memorial Death March, consider spending a few days in Las Cruces to see the many sights it has to offer. Here are a few known tourist hotspots that are worth adding to your itinerary.
- Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. If you are looking for a daytime adventure where you can enjoy the view, the Organ Mountains are the perfect location to spend some time. Not only are there stunning mountains to greet you, but hiking on the trails will surprise you with amazing sights and sceneries.
- Historical Mesilla Village. This quaint village is worth a stopover while you are in Las Cruces. It is rich in history and offers a real feel for New Mexico Southwest. Local shops and restaurants complete the experience. The laidback vibe of the place adds a charm of its own.
- New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. While you are in Las Cruces, make sure that you drop by the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum where you will get to know more about New Mexico through its interactive museum.
- Farmers & Crafts Market. Immerse yourself in the local scenery by attending the Farmers & Crafts Market. All products are handcrafted and homegrown by the residents of Dona Ana County, New Mexico.
- Zuhl Museum. The Zuhl Museum is located at the New Mexico State University. Its recently renovated and expanded museum contains more than 1,800 fossils, minerals, and petrified wood. Enjoy the History of Life gallery as well as the new Petrified Forest Exhibit.
Where to Eat
No trip to Las Cruces will be complete without enjoying the food offered here. And since you are done with the race, it pays to know where to satisfy your hungry stomach. Here are a few options for you to consider.
- Don Felix Café. While you are in Old Mesilla, drop by Don Felix Café on the Plaza where you can get to enjoy delicious Mexican and Southwestern food. Quench your thirst with their Aguas Frescas!
- Let Them Eat Cake, Inc. If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, this dessert shop is the place to visit. Pick from 400 different flavor combinations and a variety of hot and cold drinks. Pick from vegan and gluten-free cupcakes as well. This is a great spot to spend some quiet time while enjoying a few sweet choices.
- Jim Bob’s BBQ. Getting into the meat of things is what Joe Bob’s BBQ is all about with mesquite smoked brisket, chicken, ribs, and sausage up for grabs. Amazing food. Amazing experience.
Experience Las Cruces at Night
Nightlife in Las Cruces is something you want to experience whether you are looking for a laidback night or a vibrant party. Here are a few places that you should definitely check out.
- Azul. If you are staying in Hotel Encanto, drop by Azul Ultra Lounge where you can enjoy a collection of new cocktails and delicious cuisine that will undoubtedly satisfy your palate. The Azul has been referred to as one of the finest nightclub and lounges in Las Cruces.
- El Patio Cantina. El Patio has been in business for the last 75 years. The building itself dates back to 1858! Here you will find a full-service bar surrounded by live music and a friendly atmosphere. Here’s a place where you can get to know the locals too.
- St.Clair Winery & Bistro. If you are into live jazz music, St. Clair Winery & Bistro is a great place to visit. You can choose from Italian, Mexican, Greek, or American food. Pair your meal with a nice fine wine. Get lost in the music and a refreshing atmosphere.
Where to Rest Your Tired Head: Hotels
If you are looking for a place to stay in Las Cruces, booking a room in Hotel Encanto is a great value for your money. This hotel has luxurious accommodations that showcase the beauty of Spanish colonial heritage in every room. You’ll find the rooms to be spacious and comfortable for everyone regardless of the number of people in your group. Choose from the King guest room, Double guest room, Suite with bedroom and living space or Presidential suite. Hotel Encanto is going to be your home away from home.
There are several other lodging options as well including hotel packages and deals listed here.
Come on out and experience Bataan Memorial Death March and everything else that Las Cruces has to offer!