By: Value News | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: November 2010
Frank Friedemann, director of family services, and Ryan Payne, funeral director of Musgrove-Merriott-Smith Funeral Service, help organize the annual Claremore Veterans Day parade.
For many, Veterans Day is simply a day off of work. Veterans Day sales abound, and recently it has been celebrated commercially more than emotionally. But for one local business, that just didn’t seem right. They decided that the spirit and reverence of Veterans Day needed to be brought back to the forefront of this holiday so we all could properly thank and honor those who gave so much for their country. When the Claremore Veterans Day parade looked like it was going to become a thing of the past a few years ago, Cindy and Jim Smith, owners of Musgrove-Merriott-Smith Funeral Service and Crematory, stepped up and decided to take over organizing this important community event. And, it has become bigger every single year. This year, they have over 40 units participating and four marching bands.
The funeral home was the winner of Claremore’s Small Business of the Year for 2009, and the words engraved on the plaque presented to them best describes why. “For outstanding leadership, commitment to economic development, dedication to community involvement, and overall professional excellence.” According to Frank Friedemann, director of family services, the plaque describes how they do business every day. “We are deeply involved in community service,” explains Frank. “That is one of the many reasons we do the Veterans Day parade each year.”
The parade begins at 11 a.m. on Thursday, November 11. The date and the time both have significant historical meaning. The Armistice signed between the Allies and Germany to end World War I marked the end of fighting on the Western Front. It is commonly referred to as “the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month.” The treaty was signed at 11 a.m. Paris time.
Groups will gather at the Claremore Expo Center and are lined up by unit and service. You can check with the funeral home for your exact placement in the parade line-up. The parade will proceed down Will Rogers Boulevard and then ends at the Gazebo. “We have four bands participating in the parade this year, more than we have ever had,” says Frank. “We are very proud of that.”
Following the parade will be the retirement of the ceremonial flag at the JM Davis Gun Museum. Bleachers will be in place to provide plenty of seating. Helping with the ceremony will be the Claremore High School JROTC Navy unit, under the direction of Murray Estobrook, and the Inola Air Force ROTC, led by Mike McCartney. “They will actually ‘field strip’ a flag, which is a very emotional thing to watch,” states Frank. “There is dialogue spoken while they are taking the flag apart so everyone understands the significance of each action.”
The Veterans Day parade is just one way the Musgrove-Merriott-Smith funeral home shows its patriotism. Throughout the year, they allow individuals to bring their old, worn out and tattered American flags, and they dispose of them properly at their Inola Crematorium. According to Ryan Payne, funeral director, they get over 550 flags dropped off to them each year. After they have been burned, they keep the ashes from these flags for another part of their Veterans Day ceremony. A representative from the funeral home takes these ashes and scatters them over the gravesites of fallen soldiers and those who served in the military. “We go to all of the cemeteries in Rogers County and personally recognize each of these fallen heroes,” says Frank. “It really is the least we can do.”
For this funeral home, patriotism is something they aspire to promote year-round. A quote from Adlai Stevenson sums it up the best. “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” That quote seems to perfectly describe the Musgrove-Merriott-Smith funeral home family and their commitment to community.