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Veteran’s Day

November 15, 2012

Oklahoma – Monday, November 12

Tulsa’s Veteran’s Day Parade is the nation’s 5th largest, and one of the oldest in the country (94 years), and I was looking forward to watching it. So I drove downtown and found a community park to leave the van at, and walked a mile to the starting point of the parade. They had estimated the crowds along the parade route to be about 10,000, and even had to use some fences to keep people out of the street – nice to see so many people turn out in support of all the veterans! It was a good parade that lasted for an hour with a big assortment of participants – the most gut-wrenching were a couple trucks with a mom/wife holding up huge photos of their lost loved ones. There were big groups of people in various uniforms, bands, scouts, tanks, a bagpipe-playing regiment, and even a couple of WWII vets. The organizers did a really nice job. Tulsa’s a pedestrian-friendly city, and when the parade was over, Tula (who waited very patiently during the parade, but kept eyeing the muffin the little girl next to me was eating) and I walked a couple more miles around town, then stopped at a hotdog cart in a plaza for a quick bite. They even gave Tula a complimentary hotdog!

On my way back to the car, I walked by VFW Post 577. I had decided earlier in the day that I wanted to make my donation-of-the-day to them in honor of Veteran’s Day. They had held a big fundraiser breakfast before the parade (I think just for veterans and families) where people make whatever donation they want, and they were also one of the sponsors of the parade. I always prefer to make donations in person if possible, but since I’d spent quite a bit of time walking around Tulsa after the parade, I wasn’t sure if anyone would still be at the post. But when I walked past, I saw the door was wide open, but I still didn’t want to just walk in since I had Tula with me. Luckily, a couple ladies came by, and they started to go into the building (there’s an attached ladies auxiliary) so I told them I would like to make a donation in honor of Veterans Day, and they went in and talked to someone, and they said Tula and I could both go in, even though there were still a couple parade participants eating lunch. One of the members sat and chatted while I wrote out the donation check. Their post has been around for a long time, and has hundreds of members, although the number of “regulars” is more like 30-35. He mentioned they still have a few WWII members, although they are in their 90s now, and don’t come out to a lot of events, but a couple still try to show up at funeral services out of respect. And he pointed out dozens of photos of past post commanders on the wall. They offered me lunch (which I would have enjoyed if I hadn’t just had the hotdog!) and then he went and got the post commander for a picture.

When I got back to the car, I saw that there was a trail in the park that went around a little pond, so we walked that too. Altogether we walked about 5 and a quarter miles in Tulsa. And then I was ready to sit in the car for a while. I headed toward Oklahoma City, following Route 66. It is not always easy to follow, with so many turns, and once in a while merging with the highway. (There seem to be a lot of toll turnpikes near both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and sometimes you’re simply expected to have the correct change to toss into a basket to pay the toll…I’m not sure how they expect out-of-state people to know they need to have a lot of change with them!!) I had to do a few u-turns now and then to take a picture of something that caught my eye. I liked an old roller-skating place, and sometimes the sides of buildings still have old logos or ads on them. We finished the last of our walking in Stroud, and as I was parking the van on Main Street, a couple of cowboys rode their horses right down the sidewalks of Main Street. And both man and horse looked like they’d been working hard! Guess I’m in Oklahoma! I finished the drive to Oklahoma City and called it a day.

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