COMANCHE CO., Okla_ The Comanche Nation unveiled a new tribute to its tribal members who have served in the armed forces.
Wednesday, they opened the Veterans Patriot Room and Gallery. Pictures of Comanche veterans fill the room at the Tribal Complex off Highway 49 near Medicine Park. The gallery highlights many of the 1,100 Comanche veterans, bringing honor to their military service.
It took about ten years for the gallery to come fully together. For Lanny Asepermy, the creation of the patriot room has been a labor of love. He began collecting photos in 2003. Now, he is happy that the photos have a home where the public can enjoy them.
"It has been a ten-year ordeal, and I think you can look around and see that it is a nice tribute to our veterans," Asepermy said.
A Retired Army Sergeant Major and Vietnam War Veteran, Asepermy began the project on his own. He collected photos from veterans, their families and even funeral booklets to keep the history of the tribal members who had served alive.
"It is the opportunity for me to make sure that our veterans past to present aren't forgotten," Asepermy said.
Asepermy and the Comanche Indian Veterans Association needed help finding a space for the exhibit. So, in April of 2012, he and the CIVA Commander George Red Elk requested a space. The Comanche Nation had a room renovated for the gallery, and Wednesday, ten years later, they see the project complete.
"This is a great room," Red Elk said. "It's overwhelming. One man said that every time that he comes in, he gets chill bumps just looking around."
That is exactly what Asepermy and Red Elk wanted: an exhibit that speaks for itself and honors those who have served. Most of all, they wanted one that allows every generation to better understand the service of those that lived and fought before them.
"A lot of veterans don't talk about what they did in the war," Asepermy said. "Everything has a little bit of writing about what they did in service, so here they understand a little of what he did and where he was. So, it's a good thing."
The Patriot Room and Gallery is the Comanche Nation's third tribute to their veterans. They also have two monuments: the Comanche Circle of Honor and Court of Honor. All three are located at the Tribal Complex.