COMANCHE COUNTY, OK (KSWO) - Memorial Day ceremonies were in full swing across southwest Oklahoma Monday.
Events at Fort Sill Memorial Cemetery in Elgin and Sunset Memorial Gardens in Lawton honored all the soldiers who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
A separate event at Highland Cemetery in Lawton was held to honor Lawton's first police chief, Heck Thomas.
Randy Dunham is the curator of the Fort Sill Artillery Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame and was Monday's keynote speaker at the Fort Sill National Cemetery ceremony. He said remembering those we've lost on Memorial Day is extremely important.
"I think it's one of the most important things we can do," Dunham said. "I think we owe a debt to them to keep their memory alive and my fear is in some cases a lot of the public is not remembering that, they don't have a connection to a man or woman in the military."
In his speech, Dunham asked the crowd to reflect on their earliest Memorial Day memories and the original meaning of the holiday.
"The people that come here really know what Memorial Day is all about so I don't have to preach to them but what I want them to do is go back and carry on by spreading the word, educating the rest of the public, their family and friends to keep it alive," Dunham said.
Right up the road in Lawton, historical reenactors dressed up as 1800s U.S. Marshall's to remember the life of Lawton's first police chief, Heck Thomas. Thomas served as Deputy U.S. Marshall for several years before becoming Lawton's police chief from 1902 to 1909. Historical reenactor Wallace Moore said to him, it is important to also honor the sacrifices of all of our country's great police officers.
"Good policemen, salt of the earth people who dedicated their lives to police work, they suffer quietly and keep it to themselves," Moore said. "In the case of Heck Thomas, he was always gone. That cost him his first marriage, he was a good husband when he was home, he was just never home. He was always on the trail of some outlaw."