Veterans and their supporters throughout the state gather every Veteran’s Day at the Ardmore Veterans Center for events described as both remarkable and a stark reminder.
Veterans Day at the Ardmore Veterans Center draws a crowd anywhere between 500 to 700 people, said Facility Administrator Sean Kirkland. Patriotic music greets guests before they are introduced to veterans from different branches of the U.S. military speaking to the importance of our nation’s armed forces, among other speakers.
“We invite the public to witness something truly special,” Kirkland said. “This is an event that brings out several in the community that has developed over the years.”
The celebration of veterans both local and from around the U.S. have gone on so long that Kirkland couldn’t recall when the first organized Veterans Day ceremony was held at the Ardmore Veterans Center.
Barbara Hembree with the Ardmore Veterans Center said Veterans Day ceremonies at the Ardmore Veterans Center are some of the most popular events each year, but the facility also holds similar events for Memorial Day in honor of those who have died protecting the United States of America.
The Carter County Veterans Council organizes and curates the programming each year. On Friday, celebration will begin at 10:30 a.m. with patriotic music performed by the Ardmore Youth and Community Band directed by Chauvin Aaron, Assistant Director of Fine Arts at Ardmore High School.
Patriot Guard Riders, motorcyclists from around the nation with “an unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security, including Fallen Military Heroes, First Responders and honorably discharged Veterans,” will make an appearance presenting the American flag.
Robert Harris, a former captain of the U.S. Air Force, is the guest speaker for this year’s ceremony. The Ardmore Veterans Center works closely with the Carter County Veterans Council to select the guest speaker each year.
“Sometimes they’re from around the area, and sometimes they’re not,” Kirkland said. “But the admiral we work with in the council is well known by current and former people in service, so he knows who would be good for that role.”
Friday’s ceremony at Ardmore Veterans Center at 1015 S Commerce St. is free and open to the public.
“We just want this to be a reminder to those in the area of the service of our veterans,” Hembree said. “That’s why we do this every year.”