The grave sites of veterans buried at Red Rock Methodist Church Cemetery will be much easier to find. They now have a white cross next to them and on Veterans Day, an American flag will be attached, waving in the Oklahoma wind.
Mike Titterington, a native of El Reno, now living in Yukon, spent a recent afternoon with members of Red Rock Methodist Church tracking down the grave sites and planting a metal cross next to each of the markers.
There were 97 in all.
Some dated as far back as the Civil War.
A retired teacher, Titterington designed and created the crosses and then donated them to the cemetery.
He did the same thing for the cemetery in Yukon. About 600 crosses were planted there.
“I’d like to do the same thing for El Reno, but I’m afraid there would be 1,000 needed,” Titterington said.
He buys the materials and then hauls the rebar into his small shop behind his home. There he cuts the metal, then grinds it to get any nicks off the surface. Then he welds the cross in place and does the same for the flag holder. Finally, Titterington paints the crosses with a white oil-based paint.
“It has to be oil-based because latex would rust before it ever got wet,” he said.
On this chilly and blustery afternoon, Titterington is joined by Clyde Gene Miller, Eldon Ridenour, Janelle Ridenour and Julie Johnston, the Ridenour’s granddaughter, in placing the crosses next to the graves.
Titterington is not a member of Red Rock Methodist Church. He doesn’t even have a family member buried there. But his parents, Sam and Abbie Titterington, farmed nearby and so the area holds a special place in his Irish heart.
“My parents were immigrants from Ireland,” he said. “We’re Irish so you know we’re full of it. They’re both buried in El Reno.”
The one thing Titterington is filled with is love of country and a deep respect for the men and women who served to protect this nation.
He said he never served in the military, receiving a deferment during the Vietnam War. The handmade crosses with an American flag waving from them are his way of giving back.
“I would like to do more,” said the 76-year-old. “In fact, I’m looking for another small cemetery now.”