Fern Holland Memorial Week to be celebrated Aug. 14-19 in Miami in honor of the local hero who dedicated her life to human rights.

MIAMI – A legacy of compassion, activism, and service truly thrives each August in Miami with the celebration of Fern Holland Memorial Week.

Born in Bluejacket and a Salutatorian graduate of Miami High School, Holland would go on to obtain her Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma and her law degree from the University of Tulsa.

As a Tulsa-based attorney, Holland touched many lives but would soon go on to use her knowledge of the law to facilitate human rights and education efforts in Namibia and Guinea, West Africa, and Iraq.

It was in Iraq while working for the American-led Coalition Provisional Authority to promote human rights and include women’s rights into the new Iraqi constitution that Holland’s life was tragically cut short at just 33 years old.

On March 9, 2004, insurgents posing as Iraqi police ambushed and opened fire on the vehicle Holland, Iraqi translator Salwa Ourmashi, and American press officer Robert J. Zangas were traveling in killing all three.

Since her loss, Holland’s family and the CCC have striven to preserve her memory with a focus on honoring and continuing her work rather than the circumstances of her death.

Celebrating Great Works

This year, Holland's memorial week will be celebrated Aug. 14-15 in Miami with several special activities that honor the activist and help support the Community Crisis Center of Northeast Oklahoma (CCC).

“Every August we organize activities in Fern's honor to celebrate her life as someone who is a local hero,” said Kelsey Samuels, CCC assistant director.

The commemorative week is always set in August in honor of Holland’s birthday in the same month.

On Monday, Aug. 14 Miami will recognize Holland as not only a local hero but as an American one with "Fly Flags for Fern." The American Legion will be lining Main St. with flags in her honor, and the community is also encouraged to fly flags in her memory.

The Fern Holland Memorial Lunch will be held at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at the First United Methodist Church in Miami. The keynote speaker will be Holland's sister Vi Holland. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the CCC office in Miami or online at www.getmeout.org.

"This is a special lunch where people will get to learn more about Fern and all that is being done in honoring her legacy," said Samuels. "This year our guest speaker will be Fern's sister Vi."

Dine out for Fern on Wednesday, Aug 16 will be at the Red Onion where there will also be a new Fern Holland poster unveiling at 12:30 p.m. The Red Onion will donate 15 percent of all proceeds for the entire day to CCC.

Thursday and Friday, Aug. 17-18 the Miami High School and Will Rogers Middle School will have poster displays chronicling Holland's life and work from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The annual Fearless Fern 5K Run and 1 Mile Walk will start early Friday, Aug. 19, with check-in at 6:30 a.m. and the run/walk starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Fern Holland Advocacy Center, 118 A St. SE in Miami. A "Traveling Trophy" will be presented to the group with the most walkers. Costs are $20 for the 5K, $10 for the 1 Mile Run and free for kids 12 and under.

This family friendly event welcomes runners and walkers at all levels and will also include a host of fun activities like an inflatable, face painting, chalk murals, and a meet and greet with local shelter pets.

For more information about any of the activities during Fern Holland Memorial week call 918-540-2275 or visit online at www.getmeout.org to learn more and buy tickets.

Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor for the Miami News-Record. Contact her at dballard@miaminewsrecord.com and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.