Friday, November 10, 2006

Veterans Day events start Friday in state

By Brian Sargent
The Oklahoman

Armistice Day -- known now as Veterans Day -- was first observed 87 years ago.

The 45th Infantry Division Museum has celebrated Veterans Day every year since the U.S. bicentennial in 1976.

Ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. Friday at the museum at 2145 NE 36. The museum will be open until 4:15 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Saturday. All events are free.

Friday's ceremony begins with an Oklahoma Army National Guard flyover. World War II soldier re-enactors will fire an M337 tank gun. About 20 organizations will participate in the massing of the colors.

Veterans Day "means that the public has not forgotten them or their comrades who have not left the battlefield. It's that simple," museum curator Michael E. Gonzales said.

Members of Bugles Across America will perform Saturday at Oklahoma's two national cemeteries. Bugles Across America provides live buglers for sounding taps whenever needed.

Taps will be played beginning at 9 a.m. at Fort Sill National Cemetery. No speakers are scheduled.

At Fort Gibson National Cemetery in Fort Gibson, ceremonies begin at 11 a.m. Along with buglers, bagpipers are scheduled to perform.

Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner, will serve as master of ceremonies at Fort Gibson. Sen. Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee, also will speak.

"We encourage family members and veterans to attend to remember those who have served their country and have been buried here because of their honorable service," said Bill Isbell, program assistant for Fort Gibson National Cemetery.

Other observations

A Veterans Day parade, part of Oklahoma's Centennial kickoff, winds through downtown Tulsa beginning at noon Friday. "Welcome Home" is the theme. The mile-long parade is organized by American Legion Post No. 1 in Tulsa. Organizers expect about 200 organizations to participate, including the Oklahoma Centennial All*Star Band and about a dozen bands from high schools in the Tulsa area.

Free admission will be offered Saturday for veterans and active-duty military personnel visiting the Oklahoma History Center, 2401 N Laird Ave. in Oklahoma City. The museum will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Veterans Day. A special exhibit focuses on Choctaw and Comanche Indians from Oklahoma who served as code talkers for the U.S. Army in World Wars I and II. A companion exhibit prepared by the Smithsonian Institution takes a larger look at Indian code talkers from across the United States. The exhibits remain on display through Jan. 15.

Golden Corral restaurants will offer free meals to veterans and active-duty military personnel from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday. The Disabled American Veterans will have information tables at each restaurant to answer questions about their transportation program and membership requirements. They also will accept donations.

Federal, state and county offices will be closed Friday in observance of the holiday. Post offices will be open Friday and the U.S. Postal Service will deliver mail. Saturday, post offices will be closed and mail will not be delivered.

The Metropolitan Library System and Pioneer Library System will be open Saturday, and Oklahoma City's Metro Transit bus service will run.

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