FORT GIBSON — Fort Gibson National Cemetery held a solemn Memorial Day ceremony on Thursday. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's ceremony was not open to the public.

Bill Rhoades, director, Fort Gibson/Fort Sill National Cemeteries, said that despite COVID-19, the cemetery still did its very best to honor America’s fallen.

“Everyone was clearly aware that we were representing the entire community who were unable to attend due to safety concerns from COVID-19,” Rhoades said. “I love this community and was touched by the community’s humble, reverent approach to this year’s ceremony.”

American Legion Post 20 provided the rifle volley and taps. Tim Smith, American Legion Post 20 commander and vice mayor of Fort Gibson, served as the keynote speaker.

Other speakers included Jason McClellan, director, Muskogee VA Regional Office, Mark E. Morgan, director, Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, and Bill Rhoades, director, Fort Gibson/Fort Sill national cemeteries. Former State Rep. Jerry McPeak, District 13, served as the master of ceremonies. VA Chaplain Forrest Kirk provided the opening prayer, led the Pledge of Allegiance and the benediction, and Charmin Brown sang the National Anthem.

“All of us who participated understood the tremendous responsibility to pay our respects to our fallen Veterans on behalf of those who could not be there in person,” said Mark E. Morgan. “My sincere thanks goes out to Fort Gibson National Cemetery for hosting the event despite the limitations on the attendance.”

Fort Gibson National Cemetery is open for visitors throughout the weekend. Information: (918) 478-2334.

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