ENID, Okla. — Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park will open a 30,000 square-foot temporary exhibit this Saturday at Oakwood Mall to honor American veterans and the military.
The Heroes Memorial Day exhibit will be in the former Goody's location east of the food court, and will be open from a grand opening ceremony 1 p.m. Saturday through May 31.
Justin Messenger, one of the exhibit organizers with Woodring Wall of Honor, said the exhibit is meant to honor the values represented by American service members.
"An American soldier is not a hero simply because he fights, but because of what they fight for," Messenger said. "The American soldier ensures our individual freedom, dignity, and the right to pursue happiness will be maintained."
Messenger said he wants members of the public, particularly younger people, to take away a sense of pride in their military.
"I am really proud of this country and those who defend it," Messenger said. "I think our military, and the conflicts they fight in, are a reflection of our values, of freedom and valuing liberty."
The exhibit features a wide-ranging display of military artifacts, educational displays and interactive museum-quality pieces and activities.
A 120 foot-long doubled-sided educational display greets attendees, with a history of the U.S. military from World War I to the present. Separate displays feature the history of Vance Air Force Base, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and the Berlin Wall.
Static displays include mannequins dressed in military uniforms, a World War II-era Jeep and cockpits from military aircraft, including a MiG-21, F-8 Crusader, F-84 Thunderjet, AH-1 Cobra and F-86 Sabre.
In addition to the military aircraft cockpits, the exhibit also will include the cockpit and cabin from the Sabreliner jet that once carried golf legend Jack Nicklaus to his many PGA tour appearances, including 18 major championship wins.
The cabin section of the fuselage and the cockpit and nose section of the aircraft are preserved, and the cockpit has been transformed into a Sabreliner simulator.
Attendees will have an opportunity to tour the Sabreliner free, and can rent the simulator or the cabin for a group of up to six.
"People can rent the cockpit and the cabin," Messenger said, "and sit in the seat where he flew to win his 18th major."
There also will be a drawing at 1 p.m. Saturday, during the grand opening event, to win a free Sabreliner simulator session.
To reserve simulator or cabin time or to enter for the drawing, visit http://heroes.ezregister.com.
In conjunction with the Jack Nicklaus Sabreliner, Mike Klemme of KLEMME/Arts will provide an art gallery featuring the story of the American Lakes Veterans Golf Course for the rehabilitation of wounded veterans, designed by Nicklaus.
For kids there will be drawing, a kids' play zone, desktop simulators, a kids' art station and a petting area with cats and dogs. Pet adoptions will be available, with proceeds to benefit wounded veterans.
Entry to the Heroes Memorial Day Exhibit is free to the public and is underwritten by more than 30 local and regional sponsors and individual donors.
Enid Mayor George Pankonin is scheduled to speak at the grand opening ceremony, 1 p.m. Saturday.
Woodring Wall of Honor kids' poster contest winners also will be announced at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Nine winners from the kids' poster contest will have the opportunity to sit in the exhibit's jet fighter cockpits.
Highlights of events scheduled during the three-week exhibit include:
1 p.m.: Grand opening ceremony hosted by City of Enid Mayor George Pankonin
1 p.m.: Woodring Wall of Honor kids poster contest winners announced
2 p.m.: The 9 winners of the kid’s poster contest get to sit in jet fighter cockpits
2 p.m.: Sabreliner flight simulators raffle winner flights
2 p.m.: AH-1 Cobra cockpit experience
3 p.m.: Sabreliner flight simulators (paid flights)
12 p.m.: Soviet MiG-21 cockpit experience (reservation required)
10 a.m.: Soviet MiG-21 cockpit experience (reservation required)
12 p.m.: AH-1 Cobra helicopter cockpit experience (reservation required)
11 a.m.: Historian and author John Dwyer, signing copies of his book “Mustang”
10 a.m.: Sabreliner simulator (reservation required)
12 p.m.: Sabreliner simulator (reservation required)
For more scheduling information and to reserve spots for any of the cockpit times visit http://heroes.ezregister.com.