OKLAHOMANS celebrate Memorial Day with family, festivals and ceremonies

Sunday, May 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The sounds of canon fire, jet fly overs and Taps will be heard throughout the state this Memorial Day as Oklahomans attend ceremonies honoring several generations of veterans.

In Oklahoma City, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1857 will hold a formal ritual ceremony at the bell tower in Memorial Park Cemetery at 11 a.m. Monday. The group joins the GI Forum for a brief afternoon ceremony.

In Tulsa, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 577 and American Legion Post No. 1 will hold a ceremony at 9 a.m. at Memorial Park Cemetery.

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Robert ``Dean'' Ward, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation United Shield in Somalia, is scheduled to speak. The Tulsa Community Band will perform and the U.S. Marine Corps will present colors.

Veterans will present wreaths for those who died, are missing in action and who were prisoners of war.

``We will honor the veterans that have gone before,'' said former U.S. Army Air Corps. Sgt. Bill Cay, commander of American Legion Post No. 1.

Throughout the weekend, American Legion Volunteers decorated veterans' graves at Memorial Park Cemetery, Oak Lawn Cemetery and Cavalry Cemetery in Tulsa.

The Tulsa Promenade Mall is hosting its 10th annual Memorial Day military display during the holiday weekend. The display includes more than 1,000 items from World War I to Desert Storm.

The largest Memorial Day weekend ceremony outside of Arlington National Cemetery took place this weekend at Floral Haven Memorial Gardens in Tulsa. About 5,000 veterans and their families were expected to attend.

Other cities whose veterans have planned Memorial Day ceremonies include Sand Springs, Fort Gibson, Eureka Springs, Enid, Sapulpa, Watonga, Fairview, Altus, Lawton and Ardmore.

Many Oklahomans, including some Pearl Harbor survivors, headed to movie houses during the holiday weekend to watch the Hollywood version of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on the United States by Japan. The Tulsa World is inviting survivors to share their stories through letters and e-mail.

Other residents recognized Memorial Day by spending time with their families at lakes, state parks and back yards. Many attended festivals, rodeos and concerts planned for the three-day weekend.

In Oklahoma City, thousands flocked to the Chuck Wagon Gathering and Children's Cowboy Festival at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Families strolled past nine historical chuck wagons as they ate authentic cowboy food _ sourdough biscuits, stew, cobblers, rice pudding and brisket. Cowboys prepared the food and served it to people who bought $3 ``tasting bowls.''

``You can just feast yourself into oblivion,'' said Lynda Haller, public relations and museum events director.

Children at the cowboy festival learned to make rope and weave on old-fashioned looms.

The Paseo Arts Festival continues through Monday in Oklahoma City. The festival in the Paseo Arts District features more than 70 artists exhibiting oil and watercolor painting, jewelry, pottery and sculptures.

McAlester hosted the Italian Festival this weekend, Boley held a rodeo and Disney is holding the Scissorcut Art Show & Sale.