I have heard a lot of feedback about last week’s article from people who see the “same old Lawton” as I do: a vibrant, dynamic, and evolving community. Many of them have never known anything different, and others simply choose to see our community with vision. However, we all believe that Lawton is a great place with the best people. To illustrate that point, I shared some of the improvements to LPS that preceded me, evidence of a school district on the move, despite a multitude of challenges. Any flames lighting our district today spread from those enduring fires lit by those who preceded us. Nevertheless, LPS is only a small part of Lawton’s momentum, so let’s consider a few of the myriad flames burning brightly across our community in recent years.
A perfect example is the endless construction I have witnessed on Fort Sill, portending a brighter future than ever. Its mission has changed a bit, but it is the undisputed anchor of our community and economy. City Hall also opened about the time I moved here, a perfect symbol of bringing the “same old” into a bold, new future. Second Street and 82nd Street projects were also just wrapping up, so I have never known a time before these developments. Considering the pictures I have seen of the old Second Street area, it is astounding how far this community has progressed. As I see it, no one should ever need to visit Oklahoma City or Wichita Falls for anything except The Thunder or a very hot, long bike ride – which is much better in the Wichita Mountains.
None of this impressive stuff makes Lawton awesome, however; people do! And we do not always realize how blessed we are with so many fraternities, sororities, volunteer groups, and other organizations showcasing the best in us. Civic clubs like The Lawton Business Women’s Club, Ambucs, Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary literally serve every segment of our community. The Ministerial Alliance and local churches do more than any of us can possibly comprehend. Nearly 100,000 people choose to live and work here, like The Lawton Young Professionals. Who could deny our awesomeness when such a proactive group of hipsters are proud to call Lawton home!
We have thousands of brightly burning lights in this community that we need to celebrate, and we live in a great area. The Wichita Wildlife Refuge and local lakes are phenomenal for everything outdoors, but they are simply a few examples of overlooked, underappreciated assets we enjoy as Lawtonians. Frankly, it’s time that we start to affirm the best in ourselves, permanently laying aside the outdated Lawton culture of petty in-fighting and one-upmanship perpetuated by a few small-minded people. It only cultivates a “gotcha” culture, and we are better than that. Besides, the world is tough enough without constantly attacking ourselves. Instead, let’s jealously defend and zealously support each other. We can start by giving our new Mayor and City Manager the support they deserve to build on the great successes of those before them.
No one thinks Lawton is perfect, but I have lived in dozens of places. None of them are perfect, yet none of them are better. I assure you that Lawton’s only true enemy is itself. Likewise, we are our only true saviors, for if we do not believe in ourselves, no one will. Fortunately, multitudes inside and outside of Lawton see a vibrant, dynamic, and evolving community. Next week, I will conclude this series as we consider some of the great things on the horizon, where our bright lights can one day unite to produce a supernova that this state cannot ignore. Or, as I like to describe it: the same old Lawton. Thank you, and please do not forget to pray for the safety of our children this Second Sunday of the month.