DUNCAN, Okla. – Sacrifice. Honor. Duty.
Most take for granted the true nature of the United States military until something happens to those closest to us. That’s not the case at this year’s Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, which will have a large military presence during each of the three performances, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18-Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Stephens County Expo Center.
“There is no way we can downplay the military,” said Joe Henderson, chairman of the Chisholm Trail committee that is producing the championship rodeo. “We are just 30 minutes from Lawton and Fort Sill, and we have one of the largest National Guard units. We recognize the importance of the military.
“Our concept in this whole deal is that they’ve given the ultimate sacrifice for us.”
The rodeo will open each night with a special tribute by various military groups: Green Berets on Thursday, Buffalo Soldiers on Friday and the Stephens County Honor Guard on Saturday.
“I don’t think Duncan has even realized the impact that Fort Sill has on Duncan and this area,” said Jan Smith, a member of the Chisholm Trail committee and the owner of Spirithorse Chisholm Trail Therapy Center, which is sponsoring the opening each night. “This is going to open the door for Duncan and Fort Sill.
“These people have chosen to live here even after their time in the military. They’re part of our community. We should honor these soldiers and their families while they’re here.”
Rodeo fans will get that opportunity and more during the circuit finals, which will feature the top contestants in each event vying for the championships in the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region. But without the support of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, then it might not be possible.
“If we fail to see the importance of what our freedom means to us, then how are we going to understand the importance of the rodeo?” Henderson asked. “We enjoy things that post countries don’t have.
“We live in a free society, and I get almost emotional by that. We have an opportunity to make our own decisions because we live in a free society that is protected by a volunteer military. That means a lot to me.”