Veterans Appreciation Luncheon to take place in Langston

The Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens will be open for tours before the Luncheon begins from 9:30am – 11:00am. The 8th Annual Fred Gragg Veterans Appreciation Luncheon will start at 11 a.m. at the Langston University Wesley Foundation Building, 777 Sammy Davis Jr. Drive in Langston. This informal, fun, fellowship was initiated as a breakfast in 2015 by U.S. Marine Veteran Fred Gragg of Bartlesville. Mr. Gragg was so impressed with the development of the Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens by Founder Stewart A. Williams, that he too wanted to salute Veterans and to financially support Mr. Williams’ dynamic effort. Mr. Gragg will serve as the Master of Ceremony of his named event for the very first time.

This year’s featured Veteran Keynote Speaker will be former Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Merline LeDay-Mauney of Lawton, Oklahoma.

Merline LeDay-Mauney completed twenty-six years of active-duty service in the United States Army which include three overseas tours of duty. She exited with a retirement rank of Master Sergeant as the 2-14 FA Brigade S4. She recently served as a Commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Veteran Affairs, representing Disabled American Veterans from 2019 – July 2022. She has an associate degree from OSU in Drug and Substance Abuse Counseling, a B.S. in Behavioral Science from Mid-America Christian University and a Masters in Psychological Health and Wellness with a concentration in Mediation and Conflict Resolution from the University of the Rockies in Denver Colorado.

Commander LeDay-Mauney spends countless hours volunteering support to her fellow veterans thru multiple state veteran programs. She is the first female Commander for the Joe McCain Chapter 56 DAV and before she attained this prestigious position, she held the Junior Vice and Senior Vice positions. She is currently employed at the Lawton Outpatient Clinic in the Administration Department as a Patient Advocate, continuing to ensure that veterans concerns are being addressed. She is the proud mother of three accomplished children, a daughter and two sons.

Newly minted recording artist Curtisia Denae Battle will provide music. She and her backup singers will treat the Veterans and other guests to live performances of“Morning Glory” and “Every Day is a Blessed Day.”

The Luncheon will be a tasty Chili Cook-Off Buffet with a Great Cake Bake-Off Dessert Table. VETERANS WILL DINE FOR FREE! Tickets for the Luncheon will be available for non-Veterans at $10 per adult and $5 per child 5-15years old. There will be opportunities to participate in a “50/50 Raffle” for $5.00 per ticket or five tickets for $20. All funds raised will be donated for the continuing development of the Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens.

This year, 2022, represents the third year for the Veterans Appreciation Essay Contest. This year the competition will be conducted on three levels: between Coyle and Guthrie High School students; the Guthrie Job Corps students; and Langston University students. The theme for the essays is HONOR! “Veterans are proud of their military service in defending our Nation. Honor reflects the military value and tradition of answering the call to duty. There is distinct honor in serving to protect our way of life and the Constitution of the United States of America.” (U.S. DVA) Essays are required to speak to how the members of our Armed Services demonstrate such Honor and in turn, how the American public should show our appreciation by honoring them. All essays will undergo a blind judging process, with Veterans serving as judges. Cash prizes will be awarded to First, Second and Third place winners in each category. Winning essayists will be announced and First Place Essays in each category will be read at the Fred Gragg Luncheon.

The 2022 Students’ Veterans Appreciation Art Contest submissions will be on displayed during the Gragg Luncheon. A crew of ten Veterans will select the top three winners for Elementary and Middle School grades from Coyle and Guthrie. Winners will be announced at the Veterans Day Observance.

“Veterans Appreciation Worship Service”

On Sunday, November 6th, Pastor Everett E. Mack, Sr. and the Congregation of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 222 N.E. Hale Street, Langston, OK will host “The 9th Annual Veterans Appreciation Worship Service” at 11:00am. The first of these Worship Services was the impetus for the now nationally recognized Veterans Appreciation Weekend hosted by the Town of Langston City, and for which the Town has received six Regional Designations for Veterans Day programming from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

At this years’ Service, former New Hope Member Curtisia Denae Battle will return to the church of her Langston University years to provide her lovely, stylistic, spiritual renditions of patriotic and gospel songs. New Hope’s youth will be represented by an inspirational Praise Dance by Langston University Freshman Paris Andrew, dancing with a partner, Tyree Watson, a native of Guthrie who is also an LU Freshman.

All Veterans will be asked to introduce themselves – giving their name, highest rank, branch of service, years of service, and overseas duty. A group photograph will be taken after the service is concluded. Individuals, Churches, and Organizations will present financial donations to the Founders of the Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens, Army Veteran Stewart William and his wife Maeoma.

The Sermon will be brought by retired U.S. Air Force Veteran Rev. Maurice Franklin, Assistant Pastor at Greater Bethel Baptist Church, Oklahoma City. Pastor Franklin was born and raised in Oklahoma City, attended Oklahoma City Public schools graduating from Douglass High School. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1968, retiring in 1994 as a Senior Master Sergeant after serving 26 years. His duty titles include Jet Engine Technician, Jet Propulsion Superintendent, Quality Assurance Analyst, Inspector General Team member, and 2 Level Maintenance Project Manager. He has served overseas in Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Okinawa, Japan, The Philippines, Germany, and the United Kingdom. He has been stationed in Texas, Kansas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Hawaii, and Michigan

Following retirement from the Air Force, Pastor Franklin worked at Tinker AFB for 8 years. He began teaching at True vine Christian School where he taught middle school Math and Physical Education for 8 years.

Ordained in 1981 Rev. Franklin has served in numerous pastoral positions including; Pastor of Neighborhood Church of GOD Pentecostal Church in Angeles City, Philippines; Served on the Chaplain staff as Pastor of the Base Chapel Gospel Service at Wurtsmith AFB, Oscoda, Michigan; Youth instructor for the Oklahoma State Baptist Convention of Christian Education for over 20 years; and for over 15 years, as Staff Instructor for the National Baptist Convention Youth Conference Western Division

Sunday Dinner has been provided and prepared by the members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc for the last 8 years. It will be hosted again for Veterans and their Families. Members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. will assist with serving our veterans. A traditional U.S. Flag full sheet cake will be cut by a representative of each Branch of Service and served to all in attendance. The Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens will be open for tours from 2:30pm – 4:00pm after the Worship Service and Sunday Dinner.


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