My wife and I moved to Lawton in January of 1982. We thought this would be a short stop on our life adventure. Well, 34 years later, we are still here and through it all, we truly have enjoyed our time in the Lawton Fort Sill community and have grown Lawton Proud.
Lawton Proud does not mean that we have no challenges in our community. Lawton Proud means we celebrate what is good, pure and exceptional and work every day to solve problems. Lawton Proud is not about closing your eyes and ignoring the challenges; it is about realizing that we are not the only place in the world with some of these obstacles. We live in a country that gives us the freedom to get out there and make a difference. Here are some of the things that make me Lawton Proud:
Spirit of Survival: Over 4,000 people show up in Downtown Lawton in a weekend in October to celebrate what is good about people. I have dropped a tear or two every year by watching the spirit of winning to beat cancer and remembering those who lost the battle. Spirit of Survival is about way more than getting in shape and being active. It is about our community’s attitude, sense of volunteerism and overall spirit.
Lawton Food Bank: There are so many organizations who do a great job supporting our citizens who are down on their luck. I am not going to mention every one of them. But I choose to mention Lawton Food Bank because they do an exceptional job of providing for the basic needs for our citizens and feeding the hungry. The Lawton Food Bank feeds over 1,100 families each month.
Arts For All: Every year, on the second weekend in May, the Arts For All organization sets up shop in Downtown Lawton. It has happened for 44 years – there are arts, food, music and so much more. I love walking around, checking out the booths, visiting with friends and acquaintances and enjoying a good turkey leg(!!!!). I wonder if we recognize and appreciate how much effort it takes to put such a massive project together every year, and how passionate the coordinating volunteers are. Last year, more than 14,000 youth in our community were impacted by the arts thanks to AFA.
Lawton Public School Foundation Breakfast: Every year on a Friday in September, Golden Corral opens its doors for a community wide breakfast to raise funds for the Lawton Public School Foundation. The foundation’s sole objective is to raise money and award grants to support teachers in the Lawton Public School District. Last year, LPSF handed out over $100,000.00 in grants to our teachers. More than 118 teachers benefited from these grants, and countless more students were positively impacted. We all love breakfast, but seeing the community members, LPS faculty and students coming together for a common goal, is one of the best Lawton Proud moments for me.
Fort Sill Graduations: Last week as I was walking the mall, I saw an older gentleman walking around and shaking hands of every Fort Sill graduate and congratulating them for finishing the first step in being a soldier. That is so Lawton. Over 75,000 family members come to our community every year to celebrate their daughter’s or son’s graduation, and our community rolls out the red carpet. Lawtonians have always supported our military. When a newcomer visits Lawton and is concerned with the sound of the artillery as our troops train on Fort Sill, there is always that person in the room that tells them not to be concerned because “that’s just the sound of Freedom.”
I can go on for days talking about Lawton Proud. I can talk about the PLUS kids at Cameron University, Fit Kids of Southwest Oklahoma, AMBUCS, International Festival, Lawton Rangers Rodeo, Museum of the Great Plains, Lawton Community Theatre, Great Plains Technology Center, Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra, walking up Mount Scott and watching the sunrise, playing golf, fishing at the wildlife refuge, Farmers Market, Open Streets, Young Professionals – the list goes on.
Lawton Proud should not be just a slogan. We should eat it, drink it, dream it and continue to talk about it. Issues and situations can’t be fixed over night. It takes time and it takes commitment. It is not about the glass half full or half empty, it is about who owns the glass. We own the glass. Let’s act like it and let’s be Lawton Proud.