November 2015: Continuing a tradition that started eight years ago, MMS-Payne Funeral Home & Cremation Service is once again sponsoring Claremore’s annual Veterans Day parade, which will start promptly at 11:11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 11. The parade line-up starts at the Claremore Expo Center and winds its way down Will Rogers Boulevard to the downtown Gazebo near First Baptist Church.
Frank Friedemann, director of family services at MMS-Payne, “Claremore’s Veterans Day parade is the second largest in northeastern Oklahoma. Our parade has grown since its beginning. We started with a 30-minute parade, but it now runs about an hour and 15 minutes.”
Assisting the funeral home with the salute to veterans are the Claremore High School ROTC, JM Davis Gun Museum, VFW, American Legion and the DAV. “We work with these groups to organize the event,” he says. Area high school bands are also invited to participate, and prizes, sponsored by the funeral home, are awarded.
Following the parade, a flag retirement ceremony will be held in front of the Rogers County Courthouse. “We retire 800 to 1,000 flags each year,” says Ryan Payne, owner and funeral director. “People will drop off their old and worn-out flags all year round at one of our three funeral homes in Claremore, Chelsea or Inola.”
Ashes from the burned flags are then scattered on the graves of Rogers County veterans.
MMS-Payne goes above and beyond, offering a long list of family services to veterans and their survivors. In addition to obtaining copies of death certificates and making copies of dated obituary notices and newspaper articles as well as other important documents, funeral home employees help file life insurance policy claims and notify Social Security of death, locate military records and file for veterans benefits. While this is just a partial list of the services offered, Payne points out that they have even assisted those who never received their benefits after the death of a loved one. “Even if the individual did not receive benefits at the time of their loved one’s passing, we can still help them at no cost,” he adds. Payne says they’ve even helped those who did not use their business for the funeral service. In addition, the funeral home is glad to assist veterans’ loved ones by obtaining burial benefits, grave markers, flag, and a Presidential Memorial certificate.
“I assisted a woman who came in a year after her husband – a veteran – had passed on. We helped her get the headstone for his grave. We will do anything to help our veterans and honor their military service.”