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Proud to be an Oklahoman ... always

by Don Gammill Modified: June 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm •  Published: June 12, 2013

It’s true that I’m biased when it comes to Oklahoma. I have a right to be. This has been my home state all my life. Born here, educated here, married here, employed here, plan on retiring here. And unless there’s something I’m not aware of, I’ll finish my life here.

But even if none of that were true, what I’ve seen, heard and read the past few weeks would convince me this is a very special place, with some wonderful, caring people.

FILE -  In this May 31, 2013 file photo a tornado forms near Banner Road and Praire Circle in El Reno, Okla. The National Weather Service says the deadly tornado that struck near Oklahoma City late last week was another top-of-the-scale EF5 that packed winds reaching 295 mph. The weather service also says the twister's 2.6-mile width is the widest ever recorded. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams, File) ORG XMIT: TXKJ102
FILE - In this May 31, 2013 file photo a tornado forms near Banner Road and Praire Circle in El Reno, Okla. The National Weather Service says the deadly tornado that struck near Oklahoma City late last week was another top-of-the-scale EF5 that packed winds reaching 295 mph. The weather service also says the twister's 2.6-mile width is the widest ever recorded. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams, File) ORG XMIT: TXKJ102

The tornadoes of May were devastating … and deadly. Nearly 50 people died as a result. Cities and towns such as Edmond, Carney, Newcastle, El Reno, Mustang, El Reno, Yukon  and Broken Arrow had damage, sometimes heavy. In other areas, such as Bethel Acres, Shawnee, Oklahoma City and Moore, it as worse. http://tinyurl.com/n4d25d4

The storms were still active when the recovery began. In addition to thousands of emergency personnel and first responders, family, friends, neighbors, victims themselves and even people who didn’t know those affected but who wanted to help jumped in. http://tinyurl.com/l5ad9mg

That was followed by those from emergency agencies, organizations and volunteer groups throughout the nation. New friends. New assistance. All trying to help.

Daily, stories on NewsOK and in The Oklahoman detailed efforts do help. Just do a simple search through NewsOK and you’ll find a multitude of examples, such as …

School children in Ponca City voted to give up an end-of-the-year class trip in favor of buying items for those in need in affected areas. The local Fraternal Order of Police gathered theirs and  more donations and had them trucked here. Lots of volunteers from Ponca.

Children in Enid and several other cities and towns throughout the state collected money and items to send to tornado-ravaged communities. Little League players from Durant who brought toys for kids who lost theirs in the Moore tornado. http://tinyurl.com/m78nztl

Volunteer Ashley Lehl (CQ Lehl), Okla. City, working near a large pile of donated water bottles as donations are being sorted at the Feed the Children warehouse, 29 N McCormick, in Oklahoma City Wednesday, May 22, 2013.  Photo by Paul B. Southerland, The Oklahoman
Volunteer Ashley Lehl (CQ Lehl), Okla. City, working near a large pile of donated water bottles as donations are being sorted at the Feed the Children warehouse, 29 N McCormick, in Oklahoma City Wednesday, May 22, 2013. Photo by Paul B. Southerland, The Oklahoman

Several local groups, agencies and organizations, as well as thousands of citizens donated food, water and clothing for the victims, as well as for those working hour after hour to help those who lost homes and possessions and those who stood guard over the areas. http://tinyurl.com/l97wnoc and http://tinyurl.com/opmj7kb

And there was heroism. People who stepped in to help rescue victims. And who could forget the teachers that kept students calm as the massive EF5 tornado hit Moore and leveled their school. Some of the teachers kept the children safe under desks and tables, others used their bodies to shield the little ones. http://tinyurl.com/km9ymly

Some of Oklahoma’s most popular individuals — such as entertainers Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Toby Keith (http://tinyurl.com/lq4vwxe), Joe Don Rooney, Wanda Jackson and Carrie Underwood — joined notables from the sports world — Thunder Coach Scott Brooks, General Manager Sam Presti, players Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Daniel Orton, Hasheem Thabeet and Thabo Sefolo, NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson (http://tinyurl.com/lqd3yfh), OU football Coach Bob Stoops — and even President Barack Obama lent their support, through personal visits, concerts, or donations. http://tinyurl.com/l58brxo

There also was a little extra boost for the citizens of Moore when the University of Oklahoma’s women’s softball team and its fans displayed signs remembering the people of Moore (“One Moore Win”) and repeatedly spoke of the city during the Women’s College World Series en route to its national championship.

A lot of heroes, a lot of help, a lot of unselfishness and a lot of caring. And as Gov. Mary Fallin said during a tour of the Moore devastation, a lot of work to be done.

Count on it. It will be. And we’ll all be proud.

 

 

 


by Don Gammill
General Assignment Editor and Columnist
Don Gammill is general assignment editor and columnist. A native of Ponca City, he graduated from Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma). While in college, he was a sports stringer for The Oklahoma City Times....
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