Pilgrimage to father's grave done with mules
By Cathy Spaulding | Muskogee Phoenix, Okla. | Published: July 1, 2014
WARNER, Okla. — With two mules pulling a green wagon, Charlie Peters continues his journey to thank his father.
“I’m going to Okemah to visit my father’s grave,” the Michigan resident said Monday afternoon during a rest stop in Warner. “He was a World War II veteran and I’ve never been to his grave. So, I am going to go to his grave and say ‘thank you for your service.’”
Peters, a Vietnam veteran, said he also seeks to share that thanks with other veterans. That’s why he’s taking the mules, Tom and Jerry, along country roads and back roads, averaging about 20 miles per day, he said.
“I’m trying to meet everybody,” said Peters, a retired GM machinist. “I want to thank all the veterans I meet along the way.”
Peters, 69, is traveling with his wife, Herminia Peters, 67, in a wagon built for the trip. Charlie Peters said the wagon features solar panels, water, iPads, and “a nice bed in the back.”
They paused in Warner to wash clothes and eat. Herminia Peters said they were to spend that night at Connors State College before taking the remaining 60 or so miles to Okemah.
The Peterses are finishing a journey they began in May 2013 in their central Michigan hometown of Owosso Township. That trip was cut short after nearly 900 miles when their mules were hit and killed in a crash July 24 near Ozark, Ark. Charlie Peters suffered rib injuries, according to an Arkansas News report.
“So I’m finishing the trip this year,” he said. “I went back to where I had the wreck and started again.”
Peters said his father’s family lived on a farm near Okemah. He said his father, R.H. Peters, served in the Army and fought in Germany. He also served in occupied Japan, Charlie Peters said, adding that his father died seven or eight years ago in a veterans home in Talihina.
Peters recalled growing up in Arkansas, where his father took him fishing and hunting.
“He was a great dad,” he said, recalling that his father’s most important life lesson was “never quit.”