By Robert Medley
Piedmont resident Brittany Anderson celebrated her 28th birthday Sunday, and for the first time in half a decade, her husband was with her.
For the past five years, her husband, Army veteran and Staff Sgt. Brian Anderson, had been on military duty on “orders” on various assignments. They have been married five years, so not one of her birthdays had they spent together as a married couple. The Andersons, who have three children, were together for a change on Sunday, Nov. 8 for a special event on mom’s birthday.
This year, Brian Anderson was selected by the nonprofit group Flag Poles Honoring Our Veterans to receive a new flagpole and flag in their front yard. The group is based in the Oklahoma City area, and they donate their labor and materials to put flags in veterans’ yards.
With Brooks, 2, Leo, 4 and Adele, 9, gathered around, the flagpole was dedicated at their home in a short ceremony.
Brittany Anderson explained how she managed to get Staff Sgt. Anderson to arrive at home for the day, as he had been given an assignment already.
“I got a hold of his (Staff Sgt. Anderson’s) commander and First Sgt. because I knew he had orders to see what could be done for him to be off to come home,” Brittany Anderson said.
A surprise was planned, and the group and city officials showed up in Piedmont with a new flagpole and flag.
Staff Sgt. Anderson was told by his commander to go home to take his wife to breakfast.
About 10 a.m. Sunday, about 50 people from the group arrived at the home on Mustang Road in northeast Piedmont.
The Andersons are known by neighbors for putting about 80 flags in their yard for Independence Day.
Staff Sgt. Anderson was emotional and cried with joy to receive a flag Sunday. He said it meant a lot to him.
“It means a lot to me. The flag means a lot to me. The people who have fought and died for our country mean a lot to me and the friends I have lost,” Staff Sgt. Anderson said.
The group put 22 flagpoles at veterans’ yards across the state over the weekend in recognition of Veterans’ Day and to raise awareness of another important issue. Statistics show that 22 veterans commit suicide a day, and Staff. Sgt. Anderson has also lost two co-workers to suicide.
The south wind was too fierce Sunday to set the pole on the base. As soon as the wind stopped this week, the plan was to erect the pole and let the flag wave.
Staff Sgt. Anderson, who served in Afghanistan, was given a U.S. Flag and a U.S. Army Flag by the nonprofit group.
Brittany Anderson said she had never been so happy on her birthday.
“It was the best birthday I’ve ever had. It was a neat experience. A pretty cool birthday party,” Brittany Anderson said.
Attending the ceremony Sunday were members of the Oklahoma City Fat Guy Club, Battlin’ Betties Oklahoma Platoon, Flags of Honor Escorts Program, Battle Scare and Seventh Sin MC Bricktown Chapter.
Breakfast was provided by Piedmont chiropractor Dr. Tamra States.
Piedmont Mayor Kurt Mayabb and City Councilman Kevan Blasdel also attended.