Maj. Gen. Ricky Adams stood Friday underneath a red and yellow image of a thunderbird on a red background, long the symbol for Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Division, and talked about sacrifice.
Speaking to dozens of veterans and their families who had gathered for a Veterans Day ceremony outside the 45th Infantry Division Museum, Adams wasn't only referring to the history chronicled inside the museum's walls.
More than 3,000 men and women are wearing the thunderbird patch in Afghanistan as they serve a deployment with the Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The group has lost 14 soldiers since they deployed in June.
That stark reality was on the minds of previous generations of veterans as they gathered at the museum Friday.
“I cut out every article for every soldier lost from the 45th,” said Carter Glass, 84, of Oklahoma City. “I think about them every day.”
Glass, who served in Korea and Vietnam, wasn't alone.
William Hill, 79, of Edmond, served with the 45th in Korea. He said the annual Veterans Day ceremony at the museum is a chance to see old friends, but the knowledge that a new group of men and women are putting their lives on the line with his old unit is a reminder of what has always been at stake when young men and women go to war.
“It makes you realize the commitment they have,” Hill said. “That's why we're here today.”