Saluting Fort Sill
One of the most strategic U.S. military bases in the nation, the U.S. Army’s Fort Sill has grown from a small outpost and cavalry unit founded 1869 to a preeminent military training center for both U.S. and international soldiers. This year, Fort Sill is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a year-long series of events commemorating accomplishments and contributions to the military and community.
“We want to involve the whole community so the events are spread throughout the year, and ultimately culminating with a fantastic tree-lighting ceremony featuring music, activities and fun for the whole family,” said Monica K. Guthrie, Fort Sill media relations officer/PAO.
One of the most heartwarming events takes place in spring when the fort hosts Special Olympics Oklahoma.
“It’s a wonderful joint effort in partnership with the community,” Guthrie said. “The base hosts the day-long Special Olympics for the Southwest region of Special Olympic Oklahoma, with exciting events, fun and fanfare. Businesses and organizations are invited to host booths and support the effort. It’s heartwarming to see soldiers cheering on the competitors. The 77th Army Band plays the Olympic Fanfare when the torch bearer arrives at the start of the event. It’s very touching.”
In the summer, Fort Sill is hosting Christmas in July.
“It’s a very special way of honoring our soldiers abroad and helping them celebrate the 150th anniversary with us, even though they’re not here,” Guthrie said. “We’ll collect 150 care packages with the United Service Organization serving as our central collection point. The soldiers can enjoy goodies from home, knowing we’re thinking of them and they’re a part of the celebration.”
Near year’s end, the community is invited to come together for the St. Barbara’s Day Ball.
“St. Barbara is the patron saint of the artillerymen, and hence the name,” Guthrie said. “Headquarters hosts a dinner and ball that sells out every year. It’s a lively evening brimming with history and tradition, a time when the community can sit down at the table and get acquainted with military personnel they may have never met. There’s music, skits, lots of laughs and a great deal of pomp and circumstance.”
Fort Sill trains 20,000 soldiers every year, 80 percent of whom live in and around Lawton. With vast training capacities, the fort welcomes more than 100,000 visitors each year and generates more than $1.7 billion in annual economic activity.