By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
Veterans will be honored throughout this weekend with parades, ceremonies and concerts.
Veterans Day falls on Sunday, but several events will be held sooner.
Patriotic music will ring at a Salute to Veterans Concert tonight at Timothy Baptist Church. National recording artists Dave Boyer and Ernestine Dillard will join the Celebration Singers Choir and the Tulsa Praise Orchestra for the concert.
The orchestra was founded 17 years ago by trumpeter Bob Archer and has performed throughout the Southwest. In 2011, the orchestra performed for the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.
Timothy Baptist Church Pastor Kelly Payne compared the orchestra to a big band.
“They’re one of the better orchestras I’ve heard,” Payne said.
The ninth annual Muskogee Veterans Parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday in downtown Muskogee.
The theme of the parade is “From Here to Tripoli —We Honor Our Veterans.”
“This is about honor, honoring our service guys,” said Joel Everett, special projects coordinator for Muskogee Parks and Recreation. “It is somber, but it also is uplifting.”
He said about 45 entries will participate in the parade.
The parade’s grand marshal, Gunnery Sgt. Harold Hooper, and other honorees will be introduced at a ceremony at 10 a.m. near the armed forces recruiting offices on the south side of Arrowhead Mall, 501 N. Main St. Hooper served in the Korean and Vietnam wars and earned five Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star.
Everett said Hilldale Middle School student Madison Etchison will sing and lead people in the national anthem at the ceremony and before the parade.
After the parade, the Blue Star Mothers of Green Country, Chapter 12, will have a chili lunch at the Martin Luther King Center, 627 N. Third St.
The third annual Veterans Banquet will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Lee McLain, chairman of Veterans 4 Veterans said the free event is meant to complement the many other events to honor veterans going on around Muskogee through the weekend. All veterans and their families are invited, he said.
Becky Alexander, also a veteran, is participating in the banquet as well.
“These are veterans that are putting this banquet on for other veterans to show how much we love each other, to support each other,” Alexander said. “And those that have served need to know that what they did is important, and we are truly thankful.”
Fort Gibson National Cemetery will have a ceremony on Veterans Day.
Veterans Day normally is Nov. 11, with ceremonies held at 11 a.m. However, with this year’s observance falling on a Sunday, the cemetery moved its observance to 2 p.m.
The Westville High School Choir will sing the national anthem and a patriotic medley. Honor Guards from the Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band will present colors.
James R. Floyd, director of the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center, will give the address.
Fort Gibson Middle School student Morgan Gilliam will play Taps.
“The ceremony is a value to families who want to remember their veterans and loved ones,” said Bill Isbell, program assistant at the cemetery. “Even veterans who are still living love the ceremony.”
Wendy Burton contributed to this story.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veterans Day activities
WHAT: Checotah Veterans Day Parade.
WHEN: 9 a.m. today.
WHERE: Downtown Checotah, with ceremony at Gentry Street and Broadway.
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WHAT: Cherokee Nation Veterans Day Ceremony.
WHEN: 10 a.m. today.
WHERE: Cherokee Warriors Memorial, near east side of W.W. Keeler Complex, 17675 S. Muskogee Ave., Tahlequah.
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WHAT: Salute to Veterans Concert.
WHO: Tulsa Praise Orchestra.
WHEN: 7 p.m. today.
WHERE: Timothy Baptist Church, 5530 W. Okmulgee Ave.
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WHAT: Muskogee Veterans Parade
WHEN: Pre-ceremony, 10 a.m. Saturday outside Arrowhead Mall armed forces recruiters offices. Parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday.
WHERE: From Fourth and Denison Streets to Second Street, south to Broadway, west to Sixth Street, north to Denison.
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WHAT: Green Country Blue Star Mothers Chili Lunch.
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Martin Luther King Center, 627 N. Third St.
COST: $5. Veterans eat for free.
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WHAT: 3rd annual free Veterans Banquet.
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Armed Forces Reserve Center, 6800 S. Cherokee St.
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WHAT: Fort Gibson National Cemetery Veterans Day Service.
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: Fort Gibson National Cemetery.
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WHAT: Warner Public Schools Veterans Day Program.
WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Monday.
WHERE: Warner Event Center.