By Conrad Dudderar
U.S. military veterans buried at the Yukon and Frisco cemeteries will be honored next Monday for Memorial Day.
Yukon’s traditional Memorial Day ceremony will be 10 a.m. May 31 near the front entrance to the Yukon Cemetery, 660 S Garth Brooks Blvd.
Residents will gather around the Yukon Veterans Memorial to recognize – and remember – the men and women who sacrificed for their country.
“We will read the names of veterans buried at the Yukon Cemetery and Frisco Cemetery,” said Eddie “Mac” McFadden, commander of American Legion Post 160 and member of the Knight of Columbus.
“This is open to the public and we certainly welcome them.”
Yukon’s Memorial Day ceremony will be presented by the Yukon American Legion and the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus from St. John Nepomuk Catholic Parish in Yukon and Holy Spirit Catholic Parish in Mustang.
Volunteers will take turns reading aloud about 1,600 names of veterans – representing all U.S. armed forces – who are buried at the Yukon Cemetery and Frisco Cemetery.
Yukon’s Larry Taylor will play “Taps” on his trumpet after all names are read. Taylor, a member of the Oklahoma City Community Band, is a former Yukon mayor and band teacher.
Veterans’ names are inscribed on the Yukon Veterans Memorial’s stone monuments at the Yukon Cemetery. Names are typically added before Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Carol Knuppel of the Yukon Historical Society has been the longtime record-keeper of veterans buried at the cemetery.
Many people visit the Yukon Cemetery and Frisco Cemetery on and around Memorial Day, particularly to honor those who died in military service.
Memorial Day is observed annually on the first Monday in May to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.
Originally known as Decoration Day, the observance originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
McFadden thanked sponsors of Yukon’s Memorial Day ceremony: Yanda & Son Funeral Home, Ingram Smith & Turner Mortuary, Crossland’s Rentals, and Larry Taylor.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Last year was the first time in 30 years there was no Memorial Day program at the Yukon Cemetery.
The ceremony was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and concerns.
“We were unable to have the ceremony last year because we would have had to spread out the chairs too far apart and the tent is only so big,” McFadden said.
There also was not enough manpower to place U.S. flags on all veterans’ graves.
The first Memorial Day ceremony at the Yukon Veterans Memorial was in May 1996 after the memorial was dedicated in November 1995.
The Yukon Historical Society and Yukon’s former Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter started Yukon’s Memorial Day observance as part of the city’s 1990 centennial celebration.
Members of Yukon’s former Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter had read all cemetery headstones to compile a list of veterans’ names.
Evelyn and George Basore, then members of the Yukon Cemetery board, organized the Memorial Day ceremony around a flagpole in the center of the cemetery for a few years before the Veterans Memorial was erected.