A special delivery of Christmas cheer came to the Norman Veterans Center Tuesday.
The men and women living there were treated to a meal and music for the second year, and the small gesture has a big impact.
Festive headbands and music filled the activity room in the place 301 veterans call home. It is a bittersweet occasion, though. Since the first Christmas party last year, more than half of the original attendees have died.
Vietnam-era Marine veteran Mike Simmons says, “It’s sometimes very difficult, because the guy or gal that you talk to today may be gone next year.”
Simmons organized the event to honor those men and women, but also to show support to the veterans who are not able to spend their holiday with loved ones.
“There are some folks here that sadly don’t get to see their family,” he says, “because they live out of state or they no longer have family members that live around here.”
Norman High School orchestra students shared the sweet sounds of the season to help the vets take their mind off of their troubles, and Simmons got the local Rib Crib restaurant to cater more than $2,000 in food for a fraction of the cost.
“We were up early this morning, making sure our smoker was going and the food was fresh,” says the Norman location’s general manager Scott Carnagie.
Carnagie says for him, the mission hits home. “I personally have quite a few veterans in my personal family,” he says, “so just the sacrifice they made sometimes is overlooked, but without them we wouldn’t have what we have today.”
Veterans can get a discount at Rib Crib all year long. For this crowd, knowing their sacrifices are appreciated means the world. The veterans hope you remember their service this season, and encourage you to come visit.