WAR dead remembered in Memorial Day service

Tuesday, May 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Most people spent Monday at a nearby lake or in the backyard preparing for a cookout. And Dale Durnell believes that's a shame.

The chaplain of Hartshorne's American Legion Post 180 told the nearly 50 people gathered at Oak Hill Cemetery in McAlester that Americans have forgotten what Memorial Day is all about.

``Many more will amuse themselves at the theater with a showing of Pearl Harbor than will honor those who died serving their country,'' Durnell said.

``Pearl Harbor,'' a movie commemorating the 60th anniversary of the World War II attack, opened in theaters this past weekend.

Durnell said more than 1.1 million people have died in wars over the past century.

``It's right that we stop and take a few minutes from our so busy day to remember them,'' Durnell said. ``Those unsung heroes who died in POW camps and in battle would also rather be with you in your back yard, grilling meat and maybe sucking down a beer or two.''

In Oklahoma City, Oklahomans gathered at the 45th Infantry Division Museum, where they heard the 145th Army Band play a medley of armed forces songs.

Bethany resident Joe Tauras remembers his father, Edward Tauras, an Army soldier, who was in a barracks at the attack on Pearl Harbor.

``He went out on the roof and started firing,'' Tauras said. ``All he had was a rifle.''

Tauras' father never had anything else to do with guns after World War II, Tauras said. He did speak of his time in the military.

``My dad made an audio tape about nine minutes long to share his experiences,'' Tauras said of his father, who died two years ago.

Tauras brought his grandchildren, 5-year-old twins, Garrett and Carley, and, 2-year-old Brent, as he does every year.

``We came out to honor my dad,'' Tauras said.

In Fort Gibson, the bodies of veterans from the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War rest in the Fort Gibson National Cemetery, but Monday marked the first time the Memorial Day ceremony focused on the contributions of female soldiers.

Judy Caden, deputy director of the Office of Loan Guaranty in Washington, D.C., told the audience of about 400 that throughout history, women have served in all branches of the armed forces as everything from nurses to saboteurs to scouts.

``We've never done anything like this before, and from now on we'll do it every year,'' said former Muskogee Mayor Orville Eaton, who helped preside over the event.