Neil Buckman was presented the award during Monday's Veteran's Day program

Every year, the Celebration of Freedom Committee recognizes one individual as the Veteran of the Year.

This year's recipient is not only a veteran, but also a strong supporter of veterans.

The award was presented to Neil Buckman during Monday's Veteran's Day program.

"As a local businessman, he has taken much time in helping create and make successful many major projects," said Stuart Schake, who was presenting the award along with Dale Dawson.

Some of Buckman's involvements include: the local Kiwanis Club, an active member and former president; Prairie Port Festival; Governor's One Shot Turkey Hunt; El Dorado Chamber where he has also served as president; City Sales Tax Advisory Board, also serving as chair; Red Devil Chefs; Leadership Butler; Holiday Visions Committee: a trustee for the Felix Cantrell Trust; Convention and Visitor's Committee; and taking a role important for this event – the parade chair and chair of Celebration of Freedom committee.

In addition to these services to his community, Buckman also served his country in the Army. He was a SP5, serving for six years as a military policeman in the Army National Guard of Missouri and as a reservist for the Army.

"Making Celebration of Freedom happen each year, Neil spends many hours arranging many facets of this event, including making contacts and arranging details of the entire event, particularly the parade," Dawson said. "Without Neil it wouldn't happen each year."

In addition to the award, his name will be added to a plaque of the veterans of the year recipients.

"Thank you," Buckman said. "This is what Veteran's Day is all about to offer thanks.

"I have been blessed to be involved in this and it is a labor of love."

He said over the years the Celebration of Freedom events have begun to be recognized around the area and has prompted other cities to start their own celebrations of veterans.

"Thank you for this honor," he said. "I am very blessed."

The ceremony ended with the playing of "Taps" by Kevin Pickrell.

Julie Clements can be reached at