POTEAU, OKLAHOMA — Of all the rooms in the Leflore County Museum, the old building’s mezzanine might be the one spot Bonnie Prigmore spends the most care with.
She and her interns take time with each picture, each patch, the medals, and uniforms making sure they’re properly arranged and free of dust.
Her devotion to these artifacts start with family.
“My dad fought in World War II,” she says.
Her brother fought in Vietnam.
She spent four years in the Air Force herself.
“It helped me immensely,” she says of her time in service to her country. “I had to learn to fend for myself.”
Bonnie’s son is an Iraq War veteran.
So it only made sense that she found herself on a committee of Vietnam veterans that asked for a little space at the local cemetery for a memorial to honor the fallen soldiers from that conflict.
Prigmore recalls, “They erected a wall in honor of the Vietnam veterans and commemorating the living (Vietnam) wall.”
Bonnie’s memories are particularly strong from the day her big brother’s name was added to the list of those killed in action, and as the news came home.
“I was 15,” she says. “I had been shopping with my aunt and cousins. We came into town and my uncle met us at the gas station and told us we’d received a telegram.”
“That time was kind of bad.”
She doesn’t come out to this memorial very often, too many memories attached to the face on this statue, and the name on the uniform.
Arists used Bonnie’s brother as the template.
Prigmore prefers to think of this face as representing much more.
“It represents every veteran who’s been killed in action or who has served,” she says. “And I think they’ve done a pretty good job.”
So this Veterans’ Day, the museum’s military wing will have a little extra spit and polish.
This memorial will get a few more flags, and one Oklahoma family might get a few additional well deserved thanks.