A group made up of veterans and government officials hope to have the storm damaged Fallen Veterans Monument replaced by Memorial Day 2020.

The monument, which is located in Deweese Park next to the library, was knocked down by a falling tree during the April 18 tornadoes that hit Neshoba County. It recognizes the war dead from Neshoba County and those who are missing and believed to have been killed in action.

The monument was not insured. It is estimated it will cost as much $140,000 to replace.

More than 20 people attended the meeting held last Tuesday at the Depot. They formed a committee with plans to become a 501c3 group  so donations can be tax deductible. Officers and committee members were named.

“Tonight was a great time to organize,” said Ray Crocker of American Legion Post 138. “We want to get the ball rolling and replace our Fallen Veterans Memorial.”

Crocker was named vice chairman of the committee. A chairman was not named at this time. Other officers named were Tim Moore, secretary and Cecil Hooker, treasurer. 

Members are: Tim Gibbs, representing American Legion Post 138; Stanley Backstrom, representing American Legion Post 238; Susan Shoffner, VFW; Obbie Riley, the board of supervisors; Mayor James Young; Kyle James and William Backstrom.

The group discussed what sort of monument they would like to have, and tentatively settled on a layout with markers set up from each war, beginning with World War I. 

Situated in front of the markers will be a brick plaza. It is envisioned that bricks and stone monument benches can be sold as part of the fund-raising effort.

“I don’t think we will have any problem raising the money we need,” Crocker said. “We want to build something grand for the people who lost their lives, fighting for our country during a war. We want to make it so that when the families come and look, they will be proud of what they see. The city and county will be proud. When people come through this community and see this memorial, they are going to know we care about our fallen war dead.”

Crocker believes the monument can be ready by Memorial Day 2020 next May.

“We want to have it ready for a dedication service,” Crocker said. 

The group plans to meet against Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Depot.