By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — As families moved in and out of the IOOF Cemetery for Memorial Day, placing flags and flowers on their loved ones graves, several veterans attended a special ceremony honoring those who served or are currently serving the country.
“We thank you today for attending because it shows your respect for those who have given their all. We thank you for being here because it shows your respect for those who still serve,” said Don Hunter, chaplain of American Legion Post 88 in Norman.
Hunter told attendees Monday that he believes too many people have forgotten what a veteran does. Every veteran signs up and serves as a volunteer. Nobody has forced them to serve, he said.
“Wherever they are in the world today, they have literally signed a blank check that says, ‘I will give everything, up to and including my life, to defend that flag,’” Hunter said.
The chaplain asked people to put aside their politics and support, defend and pray for the nation’s troops.
“They don’t care about politics, they care about our country. They care about the flag that they serve. They care about our people, and they will give their life up in defending it,” Hunter said.
Unfortunately, Hunter said, veterans in our country now are not regarded for what they have done and are not honored for what they’ve done.
He recalled reading about an 89-year-old veteran who had his pension cut from $300 a month to $6 a month because of a Veterans Affairs error; some of the veterans in the attending crowd gasped and shook their heads.
“They deserve better than that. All these men and women have been willing to give their lives, and they do not deserve to be treated like that,” Hunter said.
While many people who have never earned a dime are getting paid, there are people who have given their all to defend the nation who are having things taken away from them, he said.
“It’s time that the American people stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough.’ We need to defend our veterans. We need to stand up for them as they have stood up for our country for so many years,” he said.
Hunter also recognized the men and women who serve the community 24/7 — including police, fire, EMSStat and hospital personnel. Thousands of veterans also continue to serve without their active duty uniform on, whether it’s in the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars or Disabled American Veterans.
Hunter said those veterans fight valiantly every day to serve their fellow veterans and need to be supported, as well. For veterans who need these services, Hunter encouraged them to go to one of the organizations.
During a prayer at the ceremony, Hunter prayed for protection of troops all around the world and protection of the country.
“Father, today we ask that you help us to remember all those who have gone before us, who have brought us here today to allow us to be free. And may we never forget them and may we always remember the great, great gratitude and thanks that we owe them,” Hunter said.
Don Schulenberg, state membership chairman of the American Legion Post 88, also said a few words at the service and read the names of deceased veterans since May 2013 from the American Legion.
· World War II: Glenn Fox, Williard Gallagher, FG Harmon, Lewis McCall Jr., Warren Myers, Alvin K. Wilson
· Korean: James Campbell Jr., Norman Klein, Robert L. Pendarvis, Giles Siglin
· Vietnam: Abel Dominguez, Lawrence Fisher, Elbert Humphreys
In addition, the Norman Police Department Honor Guard presented flags and played taps for the Memorial Day ceremony.
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