The ceremony ended with the laying of a memorial wreath at the base of the museum's flagpole.
Kinchen, who entered the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1983 and most recently helped lead support teams in Afghanistan and Kuwait, acknowledged the nation's service members and veterans. He also told of the bravery of his fellow Guard members.
“I grew up in the Army National Guard and for the first 18 years thought my service would be limited to simply weekend drills and a two-week summer camp,” he said. “Our world changed on Sept. 11, 2001, and I have now witnessed not only one or two of our units called to service, but have seen every formation in the Oklahoma National Guard called into service, most multiple times.”
Fourteen of those Oklahoma Guardsmen died during a recent deployment, including 11 killed in action, he said. The team suffered 289 battle-related injuries, and nearly as many non-battle injuries. More than 200 remain in medical treatment programs around the country, Kinchen said.
The diligence and courage of these troops, and of servicemen past and future, is an important one that should be celebrated and honored — but most of all supported, he said.
“The scars of war, some visible, some not, are etched upon our hearts,” Kinchen said. “We must not forget that all of our veterans need the support of their communities. A few minutes of your time can make a huge difference in the life of a veteran.”