• Mcalester News-Capital: OPINION: OUR VIEW: Making progress

• Mcalester News-Capital, McAlester News-Capital, Okla.
·2 min read

Apr. 10—We applaud the efforts of everyone involved in working to revitalize a McAlester park named after a military veteran who died in action.

City of McAlester staff and a citizen-led group continue making improvements at Michael J. Hunter Memorial Park with the latest being a treatment process to remove broken glass and other embedded debris where children should be able to play.

Hydroexcavation at the park removed dangerous debris and city workers came to fill in crushed gravel between large rocks to reduce environmental strain, provide nutrients for trees in the park, and provide a safe playing surface.

The 7.6-acre park was built in 1971 and is named after Michael J. Hunter — who was born Nov. 2, 1946 and became the first McAlester native to die in the Vietnam War.

Hunter died trying to save a fellow soldier on March 15, 1967 and received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his actions.

His service is another reminder that we should all appreciate military veterans and those serving in the military for their service.

Several of our family members, friends and neighbors served in the military to highlight our community's strong and storied connection with the military.

We should honor and remember all those who died in military service.

City workers replaced awnings over picnic tables, installed new playground equipment, built handicap-accessible ramps, and more at the park.

Members of the Hunter Park Project continue fundraising efforts for a more prominent memorial to the park's namesake that will include a new flag pole.

The park is at 14th Street and Chickasaw Avenue behind the L'Ouverture School — both significant landmarks of more issues the park improvements help address.

Hunter Park hosted several reunions, Juneteenth celebrations and other events for decades before its conditions declined.

Black students attended L'Ouverture School from 1908 until 1968, when 115 high school students integrated with McAlester High School.

Awareness of racial injustice came to the national forefront in 2020 — and to the local forefront with a peaceful procession in protest of racial injustice and promoting unity.

This park is important to the local Black community.

It should be just as important to our entire community as a reminder for us all to continue working toward equality.

City officials and staff, members of the Hunter Park Project, and volunteers should be commended for the progress being made at the park.

We should all appreciate this important project for our community.