Ardmore Veteran's Day program canceled

Michael D. Smith
A flame at the Oklahoma Veterans Center burns in a cold wind Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. The facility recorded four deaths linked to COVID-19 between Saturday and Monday after an outbreak started in early December.

For the first time in recent memory, the Ardmore Veterans Center will not host a Veterans Day program. Organizers say the COVID-19 pandemic forced the difficult decision to cancel the well-attended annual event.     

"It's very disappointing not to have the program on Veterans Day, but we are committed to the long-term safety and health of the participants, the attendees and the staff and residents of the Veterans Center," said Wesley Hull, chairman of the Carter County Veterans Council, in a Thursday statement.     

The annual event regularly draws several hundred people and is held at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Ardmore so residents in long-term care can also attend. Area schools often visit and performances by local musicians normally lend to the patriotic theme.

When reached by phone on Thursday, Hull said he had been planning for the event and even lined up a speaker for this year. Between restrictions at the Veterans Center that would not allow residents to attend and schools not scheduling trips for students, the decision was made to ultimately cancel the program.     

Hull said social distancing for attendees and sanitization of items to keep everyone safe, especially the vulnerable populations that live at the center, would have created logistical difficulties.     

"I want the public to know that the decision was not taken lightly. We know the Veterans Day Program is a cherished event in our city," Hull said. "We are a patriotic community, and we love celebrating our veterans and the military members of our community."     

Hull said he has drafted a resolution to mark the week of Nov. 8 as Military Appreciation Week in Ardmore and has passed the language on to officials at city hall. The Ardmore City Commission would have to consider the resolution at the Nov. 2 meeting.