By Conrad Dudderar
A World War II veteran was among military heroes and first responders who attended Yukon 66 Main Street’s Hometown Heroes reception to kick off a patriotic banner display.
Lee Roy “Spud” Harding is one of 68 honorees in the fourth annual “Yukon Salutes” program.
Harding stood front and center for a ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 14 outside the Yukon Veterans Museum, 1010 W Main.
The Yukon Salutes project features 68 colorful banners that will hang on street poles along Main Street through Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
The banners feature the names and images of 57 military veterans and active-duty personnel, along with 11 first responders – two are for the Yukon Fire Department and Yukon Police Department.
Yukon Salutes coincides with Yukon’s observance of Veterans Appreciation Month (Oct. 11-Nov. 11) and First Responders Day (Oct. 28).
“To our gallant veterans, thank you to you and your families for your service,” Yukon 66 Main Street President Kay Casper said. “And thank you to those of you who sponsored banners.”
Casper sponsored a banner for her father, on display in front of the Locke Supply store. Bob Keasler served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
“I wave at him, ‘Hi daddy!’, every time I go by,” Casper said. “I take the grandchildren by too. Because they need to know these things. They need to remember.
“It is Main Street’s honor to remember our veterans, honor them and honor our first responders – both fire and police. We appreciate you being here. We all thank you for what you do and have done for us.”
Guest speaker for the Hometown Heroes reception was District 43 State Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, a retired U.S. Air Force major and Main Street business owner.
“I have a special place in my heart for all of our veterans,” said Steagall, who served from 1996 to 2019 in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, Oklahoma Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves.
During his military career, Steagall had over 2,400 flying hours, nine deployments and more than 120 combat missions.
A member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives since November 2018, Steagall is the House chairman of the Veterans Caucus and member of the House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
“We’re here today to honor and say thank you to those who put the uniform on, raised their hand and said, ‘I’ll do whatever it takes – including up to the cost of my own life’,” Steagall told the audience.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to have served in uniform. I’ve very honored that I had the opportunity to serve with those who fought shoulder-to-shoulder overseas and here at home. And it continues to be an honor to serve this community in the state House of Representatives.”
Yukon Fire chaplain Bryan Thiessen gave the invocation for the Oct. 14th Oklahoma Salutes’ kickoff ceremony.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. (ret.) Rick Cacini – founder and curator of the Yukon Veterans Museum – led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby read a proclamation for Veterans Appreciation Month.
She went on to present a First Responders Day proclamation during the Oct. 17th Yukon City Council meeting.
Yukon Main Street Director Vicki Davis gave opening remarks about the 2023 Yukon Salutes banner tribute.
Past and present military members, first responders, representing family members, elected officials, and staff participated in the ribbon cutting to officially open the month-long display.