Sep. 29—Stewart Williams started it all with a garden on a plot of land that belonged to his family.
The project to put aside a piece of land in Langston to remember veterans began more than a decade ago. He just wanted a place where people would remember veterans and their sacrifices.
"What I thought I might do is try to take this community and recognize, especially our local veterans, but we want to recognize all veterans," Williams told the News Press in 2019. "We wanted to say something, because veterans ain't going to say much about themselves, we wanted to say something with this garden to our community. We wanted to show our community what a veteran is and the courtesy and respect that we should extend to our veterans."
Now, Williams' efforts and those who have helped develop the garden will be remembered. Saturday, the Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens will have an official dedication, ribbon-cutting and grand opening.
In the time since, the memorial located at 313 East Turner Street in Langston, has hosted many veterans holiday events but local groups have decided to do something special this weekend.
The Town of Langston City, the Langston City Chamber of Commerce and Langston University are joining forces with the Garden staff in an event that will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a reception to include coffee and pastries before the 11 a.m. dedication, which will feature honors for Gold Star families, local veterans and guests speakers.
Speakers, according to a news release, include:
"A Purple Heart Recipient, Vietnam War Veteran who was born and raised in the Town of Langston City, OK;
A former Marine, resident of Bartlesville, OK who spearheaded the dynamic annual "Veterans Appreciation Luncheon" that has provided financial support to this Veterans Memorial Gardens from 2016 to date;
A Stillwater native, Vietnam War U.S. Marine Captain who honored the men he lost in war by sponsoring the Marine Corps Circular Garden, as well as purchasing Military IDs for each of his men for display at this Gardens;
The man with the most recognized name in the State of Oklahoma for his phenomenally successful efforts in helping Veterans obtain the VA benefits which are due to them."
According to the release, the first groundbreaking ceremony was performed July 4, 2015.
"Mr. Stewart A. Williams, 'In honor of all who served' Founder/Developer and a veteran himself, has worked tirelessly to find a way for so many others, like himself, to honor our veterans of military service," the release reads.
"A gracious thought, a big idea, is now befittingly embodied in this place of respect and honor, worthy of the sacrifice of all veterans and specifically in honor of veterans from our surrounding local communities."
Saturday's dedication is open to the public.
You can find the Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens on Facebook. Those who would like more information or who would be able to help financially for upkeep and expansion can contact Williams at email@example.com or by mail at PO Box 27 Langston, Oklahoma 73050.