The blast of a World War II-era cannon and a flyover by an Oklahoma National Guard C-23 aircraft marked the start of a Memorial Day ceremony in Oklahoma City.


The blast of a World War II-era cannon and a flyover by an Oklahoma National Guard C-23 aircraft marked the start of a Memorial Day ceremony in Oklahoma City.
About 300 people attended Monday’s ceremony at the 45th Infantry Division Museum in northeast Oklahoma City.
Retired Maj. Gen. LaRita Aragon, the first female commander of the Oklahoma Air National Guard, delivered the keynote address and paid tribute to the fallen heroes from Oklahoma and the nation.
“In our hearts, we know that we cannot fully discharge our solemn obligation to these men and women with mere words or gestures,” said Aragon, a native of Dale. “They did not die for words or wreaths alone. They died so that in freedom our nation might endure.”
She noted 73 Oklahomans have died in the war on terror since conflicts began in Iraq and Afghanistan, and noted by name two members of the Oklahoma National Guard who have died in the two countries.
Spec. Kyle A. Brinlee, 21, of Pryor was the first state guardsman to die in combat when an explosive detonated near his vehicle in Iraq on May 11, 2004.
On Feb. 19, 2007, Sgt. Buddy Hughie, 25, of Poteau was killed in Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province during a skirmish with enemy forces.
“Those are our sons,” she said, her voice quivering with emotion.
Aragon encouraged those in attendance to visit the grave site of a fallen soldier and to shake hands with and thank veterans who are still alive.
“We all would do well to heed the words of Abraham Lincoln, who said, ‘Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure,’” Aragon said. “Well, we do remember.”
After the ceremony, a wreath was placed at the base of a U.S. flag that flew at half-staff in honor of those who died serving the country. Below the American flag, the 45th Infantry Division’s flag flew with its recognizable insignia — a yellow thunderbird.