"Between their loved homes and the war's desolation"

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About 250 veterans, veterans' widows, and friends and supporters attended today's Memorial Veterans Association barbecue in honor of those who have served our country in the military. It was a good day for it -- sunny, but not too hot. The tall oak trees of Memorial High School's picnic area kept the guests cool as they enjoyed heaping plates of smoked meat and listened to a band playing '60s favorites.

After everyone ate, Col. Bob Powell (USAF Ret.) led us in the pledge, the National Anthem was sung, and Col. Powell made a few remarks. He said that veterans are well-cared for on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but they ought to be acknowledged on Independence Day, as they all fought for our nation's freedom.

The Memorial Veterans Association maintains an exhibit of military memorabilia in a conference room at the high school, but they hope someday to build a free-standing museum nearby. They also have plans to erect a bronze statue in front of the school. The bronze by Talala sculptor Sandra Van Zandt shows an old soldier passing the flag to a young soldier. A limited edition of small replicas of the sculpture are being sold to raise money to build the real thing.

At the heart of the effort is the desire to make Memorial High School the memorial it was intended to be when it was dedicated in 1962. When Mason High School closed its doors, the victim of the Baby Bust, there was talk of attaching the name of the long-time Tulsa superintendent to Memorial High School, making it Mason Memorial High School. The idea was quickly shot down -- for one thing, Charles Mason was still living, making a memorial premature. More importantly, the school was already dedicated as a memorial to thousands of Tulsans:

Memorial Senior High School

Dedicated to Tulsa students and teachers who served in World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts

I am dedicated in memory of all Tulsa students and teachers who, in complete devotion, determined that those ideals which built our republic shall remain forever secure.

My high purpose is to teach an abiding love for America which shall serve her at all times -- and, should destiny so determine, a love which will courageously serve her to "the last full measure of devotion" that the dignity of man may be always held in high esteem.

I am a perpetual light to all who cherish freedom.

As long as youth shall devote themselves to serious endeavour in my classrooms and fill my corridors with laughter, I stand as a living symbol of all who seek a better life through education.

My small part in all this was as a member of the Eagleton Brothers' Barbecue team. There were five of us who gathered at Councilor John Eagleton's home at 4 a.m. this morning to load the meat, tools, and supplies on the truck. (Dave Webster, Larry Benzel, Steve Overturf, John, and myself.) By 4:30 the smoker was in place and the fire was lit.

John puts on several barbecues each year for his neighborhood, his church, the local chapter of his college fraternity, the Tulsa County Republican Party. I've been a crew member on four or five of the feeds over the last few years; I'm still a relative novice.

The process involves bursts of intense activity as each kind of meat is seasoned and loaded into the smoker, interspersed with waiting while the smoke does its work. During one of those waiting periods, Col. Powell gave several early arrivers a guided tour of the museum. (That's County Assessor Ken Yazel in the back right of this photo. Ken came early to offer his help.) Col. Powell was a glider pilot in World War II.


We started serving at 11. The BBQ team was reinforced by several politicians. I worked one of the cutting stations, handling hot links and ribs. Mayor Kathy Taylor stood to my left, cutting racks of ribs. Clay Bird, former City Councilor and Deputy Mayor and candidate for County Commission, stood to my right, cutting up chickens and slicing bologna. There were the three of us, all armed with very sharp knives, and despite our differences, no mayhem ensued. Mayor Taylor earned a lot of respect for pitching in and staying with the task until nearly everyone was through the line, which was continuous for over an hour. DA Tim Harris, State Sen. Brian Crain, and County Assessor Ken Yazel helped carry and fill plates for veterans who were using walkers or wheelchairs.

By the time cleanup was done and all the equipment was offloaded at John's house, I was sunburned and overheated. I made it home by about 2 -- 10 hours after I started. It was a privilege to do my little bit in honor of those who endured so much more in the defense of our liberty.

BONUS LINK: The title of this entry comes from the seldom-sung final stanza of the National Anthem. In 1991, prolific sci-fi novelist Isaac Asimov wrote a tribute to "The Star-Spangled Banner," explaining why he's "crazy about it" and all four of its stanzas.


susan said:

I have stayed at the Key Bridge "Marriott" and the Francis Scott Key Bridge (also known as the Key Bridge) has a perfect spot to sit and think about the writer's words and how thankful we are to have such brave people fight for our freedom so many take for granted each day in the United States of America.

I had the privilege of working for a Col. that was a pilot and flew helicopters in the Vietnam war. He earned the purple heart. An amazing brave man -- every soldier that was under his command accepted Jesus in their heart except for one -- and after years of flying directly into enemy fire and enemy territory, the one soldier that claimed to be an atheist and refused John 3:16, to become a Christian was the only one that was never returned to America alive.

When I worked for the Col., he continued to fly secret air missions for the U.S. Army in other parts of the world. His son graduated from West Point.

Mel said:

Mason's family must not have given enough money.

"Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium"

This galls me to this day, and forever will. O.U. President David Boren says it's still a "Memorial to Oklahoma Veterans", but that's not how it reads.

To me, it will remain Memorial Stadium. As generations pass, new ones will not know. It will truly become a stadium, standing in memorial to the Gaylord family.

From SoonerStats - "The Gaylords gave $50 million dollars towards the expansion/renovation in exchange for the name change."

susan said:

My grandfather was offered the job as President of the University of Oklahoma many years ago, and his name should appear in a book that is being written about the history of the University of Oklahoma.

Hopefully they will remember "Memorial Stadium" from the years so many college age went to serve in the war. I am not aware of David Boren serving combat duty in any war (anybody know)?

There will always be wealthy people like the Gaylords or T. Boone Pickens that want their name on football stadiums. Here in Tulsa, we had the millionaire (John Hammons that built the Renaissance hotel close to Union HS) that gave money to Union High School UMAC as long as his name was given plenty of notice with his donation. The Schusterman's gave several million for OU but only IF THE VISION PASSED AND THAT MEANT THE VOTE INCLUDING THE QUESTIONABLE EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE ARENA THAT WAS CRAMMED DOWN THE THROATS OF TULSA TAXPAYERS. Will the new Tulsa Arena that BOK spent a fraction of the total millions of dollars in building cost to have their name on the arena
operate in the black for a couple of years and then be an economic burden? Is it really worth all those many millions for that one arena in that particular part of Tulsa?

You will notice the name was changed when the "money$$$$$" and vision was passed regarding another financial donor's name on property --Univ. of Oklahoma -- OU "Schustermann" at 4lst and Yale. Of course,
it's great to have people give money and it is a tax write off for the Schustermann's, but many people that are rich demand their name associated with big "money gifts" and that will continue.

I was wondering if anyone knew about the OU Memorial stadium -- even after the renovation -- are Oklahoma taxpayers paying on certain amount of the OU Memorial stadium? The tickets to the OU games are expensive for common Oklahoma families. Even if you get tickets for seats way up near the top it will cost about $250 for a family of 5.

susan said:

Actually it is OWEN'S FIELD stadium at the University of Oklahoma.

Believe it or not, Bob Stoops in his younger days
as an Assistant Football Coach elsewhere painted houses for extra spending money in the summers! Bob Stoops has come a long way financially from his very humble younger days growing up.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 4, 2006 9:38 PM.

Reminder: July 4 BBQ for veterans was the previous entry in this blog.

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