Veterans honor local community members

LAWTON-- Several veterans and community members came together Sunday afternoon to award outstanding citizens who make a difference in Lawton.

The Loyalty Day Celebration and Observance kicked off at VFW Post 5263 to a crowd of about 70 people.  Several of the award winners thanked the veterans for the recognition, but most of them commended other community members when they accepted their awards.

The Loyalty Day program honored several local citizens who make a difference in the Lawton community -- but they all said they are just one small part of a greater whole.

"There's a lot more people out there that deserves it a lot more than I do I think," said State Trooper James Dixon.

But one of the most moving moments came when the veterans honored one young winner who represents the future of change in our country.

"I just really think that our nation needs a change, and I just think that a lot of things needed to be changed, and a lot of things needed to be said," said Kayla Jensen.  Jensen was the post's winner in this year's Voice of Democracy essay program.  As the Cache High School student read her essay to the room, suddenly the group of government officials, law enforcement officers and armed services veterans sat in silence.  The VFW awarded Kayla $250 for her essay.

Representative Don Armes was another local winner.  He received the Americanism  award.  "Well it's just a huge honor," Armes said.  "I mean it's a huge honor to be honored by a group like the veterans."

But in the end, it was the award winners who were thanking the veterans.  "And the fact that we can all drive up and down free streets in this community and this town and this state, is a testament to sacrifices made and we just don't ever need to forget what people went through so we could be free," Armes said.

Other awards were given to public servants and soldiers who the VFW believes showed the true meaning in the phrase "be loyal to god, country and community."