EDMOND — Most of the men who live at Edmond Mansions are veterans, and their devotion to “God and country” was lauded during a Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by Edmond's American Legion post.
Thirty-four residents of the independent living center, most of whom served during World War II and the Korean conflict, were joined by their families and fellow residents for the event Saturday.
Calvin C. Turpin, 88, former national chaplain of the American Legion and an Edmond Mansions resident, tried to put it all in perspective.
“What we all have in common is that we were there when America needed us,” he said.
The American Legion gave special recognition to Brown Hudson for his work in providing aerial maps of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two Japanese cities targeted by the atomic bomb in 1945.
“I wasn't expecting this,” Hudson said after the ceremony.
Hudson was stationed in India under the command of Gen. Curtis LeMay.
“They showed me the aerial damage photographs of Hiroshima,” he said. “I thought it was 120 airplanes that did that damage. But it was just one.”
Hudson's war service was also singled out by the keynote speaker, Brig. Gen. Brian McKiernan, commandant of the U.S. Army Field Artillery School at Fort Sill.
McKiernan saluted the Marine Corps on its 237th birthday and paid tribute to the sacrifices of those present.
“It is appropriate we pause at least once a year to honor our veterans,” he said.
McKiernan said the vets serve another purpose.
“Your service continues to set a good example for today's military,” he said.
More recent acts of valor also were noted. Robert Willis, an Air Force veteran and Edmond American Legion Frank H. Collings Post 111 commander, mentioned the sacrifice of two Navy Seals in the September attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
The ceremony also honored widows of veterans, the two women veterans who live at Edmond Mansions and the women who worked in defense plants during World World II.
Cadets from the Air Force ROTC at Edmond North High School posted the colors and helped to honor the veterans.
“This observance is wonderful,” cadet Jarrett Talbott said. “What these people went through was scary.”
Willis read letters of recognition from Gov. Mary Fallin, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other Oklahoma elected officials.
That prompted a lighthearted remark from Turpin, who was master of ceremonies.
“I just want to ask the veterans here if any of you, doing KP duty 60 years ago, would have expected to have gotten a letter of thanks from some of these officials?” he asked, drawing a laugh from the veterans.
“It's great that we show how we care,” said Edmond Mansions activity director Jennifer Benner. “They fought for us to be free.”