By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer
Effie Milam said she was honored that residents of Muskogee remember and care for her after 12 years.
“People don’t have to be this nice,” she said. “I thank God for them. Muskogee has been so wonderful to me, and they keep my spirits lifted up.”
Milam, a retired English teacher at Muskogee High School, spoke Saturday morning at the fifth annual 9/11 Commemorative Freedom Walk at Arrowhead Mall. Her son, Army Maj. Ron Milam, a Muskogee native, was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
Millisa Henderson, 15, received a hearty round of applause for her rendition on the guitar of “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the opening ceremony. After Milam’s speech, nearly 50 people left the mall and walked through downtown while carrying flags to show their remembrance and their continued support of Ron Milam and others who lost their lives in the terror strike.
Milam said her son was very giving and caring as well as a wonderful son.
“He was always giving stuff away,” she said. “He loved his brothers and sisters and was always on the go. When he got out of college, he wanted to see the world, so he joined the Army. He loved the Lord. He ran for the Lord.”
Milam, who has missed the walk in past years because she was in Washington, D.C., for memorial ceremonies there, reminded everyone that the commemorative walk wasn’t just for her son.
“It’s for everyone who died and still serves,” she said. “I haven’t forgotten them and I still pray for them daily.”
Lisa Susanne, the executive director of Downtown Muskogee, said that although she didn’t lose anyone close to her, the attack hit close to home.
“I grew up on the East Coast, so I can remember seeing the (twin) towers being built,” Susanne said. “I was in New York just six weeks before the attacks.”
Susanne also said she was proud of Muskogee rallying around Milam during this difficult time of year.
“This was my first time meeting her,” she said. “We as a community need to let her know we haven’t forgotten. We need to remember the sacrifices made on that day and come together and show her that we honor her.”
Susanne said she enjoys the commemorative walk and hopes to see more people come out next year.
“I think it brings us together,” she said. “It shows us how close we are as a community, and shows our patriotic spirit.”
The location of the opening ceremony and the walk were changed this year. Instead of the Civic Center, walkers gathered in front of the recruiting stations in the mall, and walked through downtown Muskogee instead of along the Centennial Trail.
Cristin Spears, the marketing manager for Arrowhead Mall, said it was happy to accommodate the ceremony.
“We love to partner with the community,” Spears said.
Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or firstname.lastname@example.org.