Community, Schools Celebrate Local Veterans

Photos by Sheri Waldrop

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A number of Veterans Day celebrations happened on Friday, according to reports from all across town and several schools in the area. 

Veterans Day, traditionally on November 11th each year, takes time to recognize those who have served in the military of the United States. The annual day of remembrance is marked by assemblies, programs, and frequent handshakes and ‘thank yous’ to anyone wearing a uniform or “Vietnam Vet’ hat.

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American Legion began the day with a free breakfast to any veteran who was willing to come. There were programs scheduled for schools throughout the day, but perhaps the largest ceremony was that at Greenhill Funeral home, where between 200-300 flags were set, recognizing veterans buried there.

After a presentation of colors by the Sapulpa High School JROTC, and the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem, flags at the front of the funeral home were lowered to half-mast in recognition of the veterans. A message was given by Major Jerry Swepston and taps was played. The important event lasted all of 30-45 minutes. 

Allen Bowden presents Veterans Day Program

By Charles Betzler

Students and faculty honored our nation’s veterans and the sacrifices they have made in a patriotic program Friday morning. The program began with the Presentation of Colors and subsequently the Junior High band, under the direction of Band Director Bryan Garrison, played a heart-warming rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Principal Bill Adams opened the ceremony.

The 1st and 2nd grade students sang “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” then the 3rd and 4th graders sang “America the Beautiful.” Llast, but not least, the Junior High band performed “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” After the musical tribute, a member of the Student Council read “In Flanders Field.” 

Blue Star and Gold Star families were honored, and the 2022 Presidential Proclamation was read by a member of the Student Council.

The 1st through 6th grade students performed “Armed Forces Salute.”

Penny Haynes, former Allen Bowden Superintendent, introduced the guest speakers, Jerry Tinsley, U.S. Navy, Pete Smith, U.S. Navy, and Hank Prideaux, Air Force.

Prideaux told the crowd, “I went into the Air Force in June of 1961. I left the United States Air Force on October 1st, 1988. I was stationed mostly all over the United States, but I was also stationed in the Philippines, I was stationed in Labrador. My first career field, for lack of a better term, was in long-range heavy radar, to protect us from the Russian bombers. The second part of my career, I taught management and human relations for four years to non-commissioned officers. My last portion of my career I was in telecommunications, highly secure, Pentagon type, DOD [Department of Defense] communications. I retired in 1988 at the rank of Chief Master Sergeant, which is the highest enlisted rank in the United States Air Force.”

Tinsley said, “I am Jerry and I am a U.S. Navy guy. I went into the U.S. Navy out of high school in 1955, got out in 1960, went back to school, and had a chance to go back in as Builder First-Class in the Seabees and I spent four years in the Seabees. I am from a family of seven, I have four brothers, three of them served in WWII through Korea. I had one brother who didn’t go in, he got married and started having children. I am very proud of being a veteran and meet with other veterans weekly. It is nice to get together with guys that have similar issues, similar problems, and the knowledge and the great feeling it feels to be a veteran.”

Smith spoke last, saying, “First off I want to say it’s wonderful to see a community that has children and kids that really honor America…I am the young one in this group. I joined the navy at 17 in 1970. I did two combat tours in Vietnam off the Gulf Of Tonkin on the U.S. Kittyhawk. I was a bomb builder, I built bombs and worked the flight deck during flight ops. It was a great experience when you are a seventeen-year-old kid and you are over in the middle of nowhere…My dad and his three brothers were all in the service during WWII, and there were four cousins who were all in the service. I have a son who is in the Army and a grandson who is in the Marines who did a tour in Afghanistan. It means a lot to me to be a veteran because there’s an old saying and a lot of you know what it means: ‘I have got your six.’

It means on a clock dial you have got a 12 o’clock and the six is behind it. No matter what happens, the good thing about veterans in the United States is not everyone likes a watch dial. Countries and everything, they want to threaten us and come against the lifestyle in our country that is what veterans are for. It’s to protect the citizens of the United States against foreign and domestic invaders. I just want to say I am proud to be a veteran…I want to thank everybody for us being here.”

Bryan Garrison then played taps and the colors were retired.