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May 27, 2014

Honor Guard, veterans pay honor on Memorial Day

DUNCAN — The threat of rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those attending the Stephens County Honor Guard’s remembrance service Monday.

The Honor Guard, which honored veterans and fallen soldiers with a Memorial Day service, came together with members of several veteran organizations at the American Legion marker in the Duncan Cemetery. Earlier in the day, the Honor Guard paid a visit to Comanche’s Fairlawn Cemetery and were slated to go to Rush Springs’ cemetery after leaving Duncan.

“Memorial Day allows us to remember the people who protected our freedoms,” Honor Guard Commander Dan Mitchell said.

Ladd Polk and Rep. Dennis Johnson, both of whom had fathers who served in the military, were the guest speakers for this year’s program. Both spoke of the contributions their fathers and other veterans made to ensure the freedoms of American citizens.

As they spoke, precipitation drizzled on those in attendance, but nothing warranting anyone to seek shelter. And no one left, as they wished to honor those who gave their lives in combat, the greatest sacrifice.

“They sacrificed so we can have our rights,” Polk said. “I appreciate each and everyone one of you.”

While speaking to the crowd, Polk recognized the civil liberties many people take for granted or don’t take advantage of. Among the civil liberties he spoke about that was secured by veterans was the right to vote.

Polk said there are many people who have the right to vote, but choose not to exercise that right.

“We all have the right to vote,” Polk said. “It matters that your voice is heard.”

Johnson spoke of his father, who enlisted in the Navy shortly after the incident at Pearl Harbor. He said his father is one of his heroes, who joins the ranks of other veterans, many of whom gave their lives in protection of freedom.

“We are here to pay honor to them,” Johnson said.

Another veteran he spoke of was Staff Sgt. Vincent Brian “Trinity” Atkinson III. Atkinson served three tours in Iraq, but was killed in action during his second tour in Afghanistan. He is buried in Fort Sill National Cemetery in Elgin.

Johnson said a sign, recognizing Atkinson’s courage and service, will be erected sometime this year. Johnson encouraged people to keep watching for it each time they made the drive to Lawton.

Atkinson was just one of the many veterans and fallen soldiers Mitchell wanted to honor for Memorial Day.

“We are here to memorialize the people who have gone before us,” Mitchell said.

Congressman Tom Cole released a statement Monday asking others to join in payign respects for Memorial Day.

 “Throughout our more than 237-year history, countless men and women have selflessly answered the call of duty to preserve liberty by serving in our military,” Cole said. “Now each day we wake up in a country with freedoms that are coveted, studied and admired across the world. There is no nation greater than the United States of America—a status maintained because of the extraordinary service of those who volunteered to protect our nation.”

 

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