A huge and humbling surprise

A huge and humbling surprise

Well my eclectic brothers, sisters, readers of Reason Rest Stop and only friends, it has been quite a week of many happenings along this the most conservative stretch of Old Route 66.  Yours Truly was involved in a lot of them.  Information of these events will be forthcoming but first things first.  In the midst of the happenings this past Friday I stumbled upon a calculated after-the-fact matter of record that I neither sought nor expected.

Oklahoma Dem Veteran

Upon arriving at the Cox Center in Oklahoma City Friday afternoon and after checking in with the folks at the credentials table and chatting with the Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Mark Hammons and after checking into my hotel room I set off the locate the ODP Veterans Committee Hospitality Suite.  After stumbling in the door of the place almost by accident and after a spirited greeting by the chairman of the Veterans Committee, I noticed two very nice trophy awards sitting on the table.

Veteran of the Year  I nearly fell over when I read the inscription on the base of one of those very nice trophies:

Presented to

Route66Kid

Veteran of the Year 2016

For dedicated service to the

Oklahoma Democratic Party

Veterans Committee

To say I was totally taken by surprise is an understatement.  The other award was the Veterans Committee Legislator of the Year award for 2016 which was presented to Representative Chuck Hoskin of House District 6, a district which includes the Route 66 town of Vinita where I work a couple times a month.  Mr. Hoskin has been consistently on the side of veterans during his tenure in our state legislature and most definitely worthy of this honor.

Chuck Hoskin

ODP Veterans Committee Chairman Kevin McCray, Representative Chuck Hoskin, former ODP Veterans Committee Chair Calvin Rees.

Yours Truly was then presented the 2016 Veteran of the Year award by Committee Chairman McCray:

Veteran of the Year presentation

After partaking of the available fare in the hospitality suite and knocking back a cold one while catching up with veterans from other locales in our state, it was time to get ready for the 20th Annual Carl Albert Awards Dinner.  Yours Truly was asked to assist with the presentation of the colors before dinner was served.  Although the photo below is of the color guard from Saturday’s convention opening ceremony, something happened that was so very symbolic of what is occurring in Oklahoma.

ODPVC Color Guard

As depicted in the photo above, Friday evening I was also carrying the Oklahoma State Flag for the presentation of the colors.  Upon parading the colors up to the podium, the veteran who was carrying the National Ensign gave the command to “POST COLORS.”  I then shoved the flag pole, which had tape wrapped around the bottom of it for reasons unknown, into the base and stepped back at which time the flag detached from the upper stay and slid down the pole!  I sure wish I had gotten a photo of it but just as I was trained in Navy boot camp thirty-eight years ago, if something is wrong then it stays wrong.  All present then recited the Pledge of Allegiance after which Yours Truly requested a moment of silence in honor of those serving.  Specifically:

“A moment of silence for those who are standing watch, those who stood the watch and especially for those who are standing the eternal watch……………..Thank you.”

A young woman whose name I did not get then led us in the Star Spangled Banner and required help from the group, none of whom seemed to mind.  We all just sang along like it was an OU pregame ritual.

The Master of Ceremonies of the event then recognized the Veterans Committee for the presenting the colors and announced my name as 2016 Veteran of the Year.  The veteran in charge of the color guard came over to fix the state flag as I stepped up on the podium and stated into the microphone, “The equipment failure of the state flag is so symbolic of the failure of our state government.”  That drew a round of applause along with many nodding heads and a volley or laughter.  As the Oklahoma Flag was restored to its proper position on its pole, I simply expressed my gratitude to Chairman McCray and those on the ODP Veterans Committee and expressed the only sentiment that came to mind, that being “FORWARD!”

Even though I am actively involved in local politics and even though I do deeply cherish all the time I spent in the U.S. Navy, all I can say about receiving such an award is that if you are living right then it should be apparent.  I really do not feel compelled to wear my status as a veteran/reserve retiree or my brand of patriotism on my sleeve because if you are doing it correctly then all those values should shine through brightly with no effort.  I know I joke around a lot about being a liberal and a Democrat and as such all I do is “just lay around all day, wait for Welfare and hate my country.”  Truth be know, that is just evidence that I have embraced and internalized a narrative that has been thrown at me so many times by rightwing hacks who think they own all of America, values and all, just because they have an “R” on their voter’s ID or subscribe to extremist politics or religion. Further truth be known, there are two things about me that get impugned at the peril of whoever has the absence of mind to run their mouth in my direction.  Allow me to clearly delineate this boundary:  If you denigrate my work ethic or my patriotism you run the risk of being call out, dragged out of an establishment and possibly getting the shit knocked out of you!  Any questions?

My Navy Achievement Medal

I am still processing what it means to be voted Veteran of the Year by a committee of a statewide political party.  Again, it is not something I ever really active sought and certainly never expected.  Life is truly about relationships and it makes me smile that apparently I have touched more lives than I thought.

My humble thanks to all involved.

5 Comments

  1. Tony O'seland
    Apr 21, 2016

    Congratulations, my old friend. I can’t think of anyone who deserves this honor more. Keep up the good work. Who knows, some day I may catch up with your readership…

  2. Richard Armstrong
    Apr 12, 2016

    Stan,

    I’m so proud of you.

  3. Cynthia Schmitt
    Apr 11, 2016

    Excellent. You are a great guy…a really deserving person.

  4. Kevin McCray
    Apr 11, 2016

    HOOAH!!!

  5. Eric Veley
    Apr 10, 2016

    You’re a good human being, Stan — and a living embodiment of the 12th General Order of the USMC: To walk my post from flank to flank, and take no shit from any rank!
    Bravo on your well–deserved award! Keep up the good work, because you inspire the rest of us to try to better ourselves and our communities by the example you are setting.