Pride is an emotion that is shared with others. It’s also personal.
My wife and I are not native Lawtonians so we may look at things differently from those who were born and raised here. While we can’t trace our ancestry back to the Land Rush days, what we have experienced and seen here as transplants is impressive. It gives us every reason to feel “Lawton Proud.”
The basic reason is the people who call Lawton their home.
- Each one of you should be proud of the way you welcome and treat those who visit and move here. You accommodate others and go out of your way to make others feel comfortable. This has been perhaps best demonstrated to us by invitations to others’ homes, with perhaps the most memorable being during holiday periods.
- I value the diversity in our cultures, our backgrounds and our traditions.
- The work ethic is strong. This undoubtedly is one factor that has played into recent capital investments in our local industries.
- The sounds of freedom from Fort Sill are a very positive reminder of our role as a military community, and we want to do whatever we can to support the mission of the Fires Center of Excellence. The special opportunity to talk daily with active and retired soldiers is something that can’t be experienced in most other communities.
- We assume the responsibility to address our needs as exemplified by the recent approval of the bond issue to improve Lawton Public Schools facilities. It would surprise everyone to know how many capital improvement dollars are being invested in the Lawton community.
- The support that the Friends of the Wichitas volunteers to maintain and enhance the refuge as a national treasure is also very impressive. My wife was an active member before health issues precluded her involvement.
Let me convey a few personal experiences which have made me feel proud to be an “Okie” from Lawton:
- I was biking alone one summer weekend morning when a lady stopped her car in the middle of a busy street and offered me a bottle of water.
- The attention, prayers, support (and lots of food) offered to us when my wife successfully underwent chemo treatment five years ago were very much appreciated.
- It was enlightening to hear, for the first time nine years ago, what is offered in the academic programs at Great Plains Technology Center. The Career Tech program in Oklahoma is second to none, in my opinion. Cameron University offers a wide range of degreed programs and educational opportunities, and the University is also a tremendous asset to our community.
- The amount of activities offered to local residents is lengthy, as is displayed each week in the Lawton Constitution. Quite often, my wife and I have to decide which one(s) that we want to attend. It’s hard to accept the comment that is often heard, “There is nothing to do in Lawton.”
- One of our state representatives pointed to our plant as the “crown jewel of Oklahoma.” Goodyear-Lawton will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.
- The naturalization ceremony that kicks off our International Festival draws a large crowd. This is further evidence of our community’s acceptance and appreciation of other cultures.
- The very visible interest from Leadership Lawton and the Lawton Rotary Club in developing future leaders and the many ways in which both support this effort will pay dividends in the years ahead.
- We quickly noted the voluntary spirit here in helping others. In the aftermath of the Moore tornadoes five years ago, an uncle in Memphis told me in a phone conversation that, while watching the unfolding news coverage a few days later, he recognized and acknowledged the way that Oklahoma people come together to help each other.
- In walking with longtime friends to attend a college football game at the University of Oklahoma a few years ago, I noted that Sooner fans were greeting opponents’ fans along the way and wishing them well. I felt a bit of pride that my friends were hearing this from my new state’s residents.
- I always look forward to the Oklahoma City Thunder games’ opening ceremonies when a video highlighting Oklahoma’s communities is played on the PA system and jumbotron.
It’s great to live in Lawton. This is an active, proud community that has a lot to offer to its residents and those who visit us. The next time you hear someone make a negative comment about our community, challenge them with the facts. This is what Lawton Proud was set up to do. You are invited to join us in this effort.