War on terrorism gives new meaning to Veterans Day ceremonies

Monday, November 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Oklahomans are using ceremonies and parades to mark Veterans Day, two months after terrorism and a new wave of patriotism struck the country.

Residents gathering throughout the state to honor the nation's veterans also talked of the heroes that emerged after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the soldiers waging America's war in Afghanistan.

More than 100 Comanche County residents representing gathered Sunday in Lawton for a ceremony at Fort Sill.

Gary W. Secor, chairman of the Comanche County Veterans Council, reminded spectators what Veterans Day honors: the ending of all world wars with the signing of an armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, ending World War I.

Maj. Gen. Michael D. Maples, commander of Fort Sill, said now the 11th takes on a new meaning.

``There is another 11th that is with all of us today, and that's the 11th of September, when terrorists attacked our homeland and attacked our freedoms,'' Maples said.

In Ardmore, residents gathered downtown for a memorial ceremony Saturday.

``At the very threshold of this new century, we are once again reminded that freedom is not free,'' said Jack Riley, head of the Memorial Park Committee. ``On September 11, Americans were victims of terrorists attacks, killing thousands in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in a desolate Pennsylvania pasture.

``As we collectively brace for the uncertainty of this new conflict, one thing has not changed over the centuries _ young men and women are once again placed in harm's way to fight for the freedom we took for granted only eight weeks ago.''

The ceremony honored veterans as well as those who worked in England's oil fields during World War II. Oil field workers drilled 110 wells in Sherwood Forest, bringing English oil production from 300 barrels a day to more than 3,000 a day.

Veterans Day events scheduled for Monday include a parade at noon in downtown Tulsa and an 11:15 a.m. service at Fort Gibson National Cemetery with U.S. Rep. Brad Carson as the keynote speaker.

In Wagoner, three Wagoner County World War II veterans are scheduled to receive high school diplomas during a ceremony in the high school gymnasium. The men dropped out of high school to go to war.