Community members gathered at the Ardmore Veterans Center on Monday morning to attend the annual Veterans Day ceremony. The event featured two guest speakers, Command Sgt. Major Woody Alexander, US Army Retired, and Cpl. Glenn Mitchell, US Marine Corp Retired. The program also featured contributions from area youth with music from the Ardmore Youth and Community Band and patriotic poems read by Plainview High School students.
Carter County Veterans Council Chairman RADM Wesley Hull served as master of ceremonies and described the meaning of Veterans Day during the opening comments.
“As we commemorate Veterans Day we proudly and gratefully recognize the hardships and sacrifices demanded from and faithfully accepted by the millions of men and women who have defended our land in war and peace,” Hull said. “It’s a day to review memories of past honor and extraordinary sacrifice. It’s a day to celebrate peace and the bright victories that drew from dark battles. It’s a day to dream of a brighter future.”
Hull concluded by stating that the holiday serves as a reminder that we all have the obligation to safeguard our country’s legacy of freedom, justice and liberty.
Command Sgt. Major Woody Alexander, US Army Retired, told the audience about Frank Buckles, the United States’ final World War I survivor. Though born in Missouri, Buckles moved to Oakland, located near Madill, in his youth. He served as an ambulance driver at the war’s western front.
“There was no end to the need for Buckles’ services with more than two million US soldiers in combat and a staggering 116,516 injured or ill soldiers,” Alexander said. “After completing his military service Buckles took a job with White Star Cruise Lines. He traveled the world and became fluent in German, Spanish, Portuguese, French and some Japanese.”
Though retired from the military during World War II, Buckles once again helped serve his country. He was living in the Philippines working in the shipping industry when the war broke out. Though he could have left for safety, he remained in Asia and used his shipping contacts to help US troops get supplies. He was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and spent three years living as a civilian detainee before being rescued during an Allied Forces raid.
Buckles received many awards and honors during his lifetime. In 2007, he led the Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. and was a White House guest of President George W. Bush in 2008. After Buckles’ death in 2011 at the age of 110, President Barack Obama ordered flags flown at half staff on all government buildings and embassies. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
“Frank Buckles stepped out of Oklahoma to live a life filled with duty, action, adventure, learning and satisfaction. He lived through two world wars and watched as technology took us from the horse and buggy to automobiles and then to the moon,” Alexander said.
World War II Veteran Cpl. Glenn Mitchell, US Marine Corp Retired, spoke briefly near the end of the ceremony. Mitchell participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima and later served as a guard after the bombing of Nagasaki.
“From what I have seen and witnessed, mankind has the knowledge to destroy our universe,” Mitchell said. “Please God give us your great loving power to unite us with love so we can secure our world.”