Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

November 12, 2013

Banquet pays tribute to service

Speakers said many people these days don’t understand the military

TAHLEQUAH — Veterans Day is a time for people across the country to remember those who served in the past, or are actively involved in the military to protect U.S. values.

Parades, banquets and other events are held in Cherokee County and across the country to honor veterans, but numbers show fewer people are joining the military, and even fewer know much about the nation’s servicemen and women.

Alex Borowski, a retired Air Force sergeant and organizer of the 23rd Annual Veterans Appreciation Banquet, recalled a time when he was at an area restaurant and wearing his “Class A,” which is dress uniform. A young woman walked up to him and asked what kind of uniform he was wearing. A similar incident occurred near the same time in another city.

Borowski said 11.2 percent of the country’s population served in the military during the World War II era, but now, fewer than half a percent are in the ranks.

“Fewer and fewer are shouldering more of the burden,” he said referencing a writing by Gen. David Petraeus after the general had been accepted into the military academy.

Jim Wilson, former state senator and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said the military was desperate for people when his father, a World War II veteran, graduated from the University of Wisconsin.

“They sent him his uniform in the mail,” Wilson told those in attendance at the banquet. “The chief took him into a bathroom and taught him how to salute. That was his training.”

Wilson, a Vietnam veteran, said the American people didn’t really understand why the U.S. was fighting in Vietnam – and the men and women there in the military didn’t understand, either.

“We saw some things no 18-, 19-year-olds should see,” he said.

The banquet is held each year just before the Veterans Day holiday. Borowski, Sheila Ratliff and Cynthia Myhre took over organization of the event after the original organizer, Chimp Robertson, left Tahlequah.

Borowski followed up Wilson’s comments by saying many people don’t understand the military, period.

“It’s out of sight, out of mind,” he said. “How many people recall [retired CBS newsman] Walter Cronkite telling us each evening how many men and women we lost each day in Vietnam?”

Several in attendance raised their hands, indicating they recalled Cronkite’s newscasts.

Far fewer said they recalled hearing anything about 18 U.S. military personnel being killed last week in Afghanistan.

Billie Walker, a member of the local Blue Star Mothers, said the group is currently sending care packages to 150 servicemen and women. She said the group is solely dependent on donations. Walker said the group has been given storage space to keep the items it receives for donations.

Becky Blake, a representative of Gold Star Mothers, spoke briefly about her son, Caleb Nathaniel Blake. Caleb was a twin, and he and his brother, Curtis Samuel Blake, were born on President’s Day in 1987.

She said Caleb volunteered for the U.S. Air Force after his high school graduation in 2005.

Caleb died in a collision with a bus in 2008, but Becky said she still has plenty of fond memories of him – including a time when he asked her to march with him. She said Caleb was always proud of his country and his service in the Air Force.

T.J. Spears, who has been a regular at the banquet for years, performed patriotic songs to entertain those in attendance.

State Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, spoke briefly to give thanks to all veterans, including his father. He offered his assistance at the state capitol when needed.

Text Only
Local News
  • CN, UKB battle over trust land application

    Two Tahlequah-based tribes presented oral arguments Friday in a protracted fight over a land-in-trust application.

    Over the course of five hours, attorneys for the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Nation Entertainment and the Department of the Interior made their cases before Northern District Judge Gregory Frizzell in a hearing that was originally scheduled for February.


    July 25, 2014

  • ts-NSU-Main-1-a.jpg No NSU pool, for now

    NSU experiencing delays in fitness center construction

    Earlier this month, Northeastern State University announced it is experiencing delays in the renovation of its fitness center and pool.
    The facility was officially shuttered Sept. 17, 2012, and at the time, the projected completion date for renovation was this fall.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • jn-Suspect-1.jpg Officials: Images of suspects may help nab church burglars

    Cherokee County investigators hope surveillance footage captured around the Crescent Valley Baptist Church in Woodall helps lead to the suspects accused of breaking into the complex and setting fire to one building this week.
    According to Undersheriff Jason Chennault, cameras captured footage of two suspects on bicycles early Tuesday morning, July 22.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • svw-movie-night.jpg Local library hosts family movie night

    Nova Foreman and her two daughters were about to leave the Tahlequah Public Library Thursday, when they saw the Family Movie Night flyer.
    The three decided to stay and enjoy a movie they had not yet seen at the free, theater-like event.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-Keys.jpg Grant to fund stepped-up Keys PE program

    Kair Ridenhour’s new office is filled with pedometers.
    Ridenhour officially started his new position as assistant elementary principal at Keys Public Schools on July 1.
    But his other role at the school – that of physical education project coordinator – prompted the influx of pedometers.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • jn cvbc fire.jpg Church catches fire after burglaries

    Authorities are looking for the person accused of breaking into the Crescent Valley Baptist Church two times this week and likely causing a fire that damaged the youth building early Wednesday morning.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • svw Humane photo.tif More volunteers needed to house strays, help with spay-and-neuter

    Furry friends may seem like the perfect addition to round out a family.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marijuana, seeds lead to four arrests

    Four people were arrested on marijuana related charges early Wednesday morning after a traffic stop on South Muskogee Avenue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Sex offender found living in tent at river

    Cherokee County sheriff’s investigators arrested a convicted sex offender this week when they discovered he has been living in a tent along the river.

    July 24, 2014

  • ts-NSU-MAIN.jpg Fledgling RiverHawks arrive

    Over 200 incoming freshmen took part in orientation class at Northeastern State University

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive