The Purple Heart Trailer has been a feature in Edmond’s Fourth of July FreedomFest parade for more than 20 years.
After missing three years, two of them due to COVID-19, the trailer made its triumphant return this year.
“It was about three years ago, a man was keeping it for us, and somehow a gate was left open at his business, and somebody stole it,” retired U.S. Marine Corp. captain and Purple Heart recipient Boyd Barclay said.
When the trailer was stolen in 2019, an accounting firm stepped in with a replacement trailer for the parade. But it wasn’t the trailer the veterans or the crowd were used to seeing.
“I think we had hundreds of shares of people that said that they were looking for it, and it had just disappeared,” said Barclay.
Captain Barclay has never missed the parade. He has been along for the ride in the trailer for over 20 years.
At one point, Barclay was the national commander for the Purple Heart. Barclay said the trailer theft moved him to rally efforts to replace the stolen trailer.
“We needed another trailer, and we started a fundraiser for that,” Barclay said. “And we were sort of floundering in getting the money to replace it.”
“I had him send me, text me a picture of it, so I would know what it looked like,” veterinarian Jeremy Cramer said.
Dr. Cramer is Captain Barclay’s veterinarian. Barclay realized something was troubling his longtime friend and client.
“I went home that night and I talked to my wife and told her that I think we need to look at getting these men and women a trailer,” said Dr. Cramer.
The next call placed was to a man named L.C. at L&R Trailers in Blanchard.
“He, without blinking after he heard what my plan was for it, he literally dropped everything he was doing and said, ‘How can I help?” Dr. Cramer said.
Dr. Cramer had never met anyone with L&R Trailers, but there was an immediate connection for the project.
“He wouldn’t accept a single penny for any of his work,” said Dr. Cramer.
Three months later, Dr. Cramer revealed the big surprise to the veteran group.
“When I saw the flags go up on this trailer, and when I saw these men and women piling in this trailer for the first time, it was pretty emotional,” said Dr. Cramer.
“Just amazed at the reception we got,” Barclay said. “You know, when people stand up and applaud and wave at you and salute and that type of thing, it’s a big deal.”
The trailer made its debut in the parade as Dr. Cramer watched from the crowd with his kids. His wife, Alicia -- a proud veteran herself -- drove the truck pulling that pulled the trailer.
“Find a way to serve somebody, and you know at the end of the day, find a way to love somebody at the same time,” Dr. Cramer said. “It’s what these men and women fought for, is our freedom.”