District Judge Tom Walker has been named the grand marshal of the 2nd Annual Independence Day Parade set for 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown Ardmore.


 


Walker was selected to lead the parade by the Independence Day Parade Committee after a review of nominations for the honor.


District Judge Tom Walker has been named the grand marshal of the 2nd Annual Independence Day Parade set for 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown Ardmore.

 

Walker was selected to lead the parade by the Independence Day Parade Committee after a review of nominations for the honor.

 

“The grand marshal was chosen by an overwhelming majority of nominations from the community” said Dondi Persyn, parade committee chairwoman.  

 

Nominators commended Walker for a wide variety of service to the community and his country. Court Appointed Special Advocate Executive Director Lynn Riley and CASA officer manager Dana Redman, both expressed their admiration for the  judge’s work on behalf of children placed in the court system.

 

“People might not know what he does behind the scenes — there are so many stories and examples of his compassion for the kids that he serves, and going above and beyond to really make a difference,” Riley said.  

 

Walker is the founder of CASA in Carter County, and one of the first founding members of the statewide CASA program.

 

Nominators also cited Walker’s long military service and honors, which spans more than four decades.

 

The judge began his military career in 1968 when he enlisted in the Army as a counterintelligence agent and served during the Vietnam War.

 

Walker joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1973, while attending law school at the University of Oklahoma and has also served in the Army Reserves. He has served as staff judge advocate and rear area operations commander for the 45th Infantry Brigade. He was the first judge advocate in the Army to attend the Tactical Commanders Development Course and served as special assistant to the Judge Advocate General of the Army. Walker was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in 2000.

 

In his civilian career, Walker presides over Carter County District Court as district judge and is the Chief Judge of Oklahoma 20th Judicial District.

 

Walker said as a veteran he is particularly “honored and humbled” to have been chosen as parade marshal.

 

“As a veteran I am honored and pleased to be selected. It is especially gratifying that the selection committee chose a Vietnam veteran. Because Vietnam was so unpopular and so divisive, for many years after the war ended, such a selection would have been out of the question. Unfortunately, we were not looked upon as having the same stature as a veteran of World War I, World War II or Korea. Now, a war veteran is a war veteran is a war veteran,” he said.

 

“As a veteran, I am also pleased that the parade is even occurring. It says to me that true patriotism is on the rise. We, as citizens, may agree or disagree with each other about the policies of our government, but we are still Americans, we still love our country, and we are still prepared to defend it with our lives if necessary.”

 

Walker also said Ardmore’s Independence Day Parade is equally important as a reminder.

 

“Events like this help us remember what is important about the USA, what sets us apart from much of the rest of the world. It also serves to pass on that heritage to succeeding generations. It is one more reminder for us and one more lesson for those who follow us that although it may be well worn, it’s true — freedom is not free.”

 

Walker will lead the parade set for 10 a.m. Saturday. The parade route begins at Central Park and goes east on Main Street through the historic downtown area and ends at the Santa Fe Depot.

 

To ask questions about the parade, call Persyn at (580) 490-3337.