New monument unveiled on Veterans Day
The new Fallen Veterans Monument was unveiled before a crowd of more than 300 people on Veterans Day in Dewitt-DeWeese Park last week.
The program started promptly at 11 a.m. with warning sirens sounding. There was the singing of the national anthem and introductions were made. The Gold Star mothers were recognized.
Randy C. Reeves, the 6th Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs, was the featured speaker.
“It is obvious to me that in this community, even a tornado cannot wipe out your pride and your patriotism,” Reeves said.
“There are a few words that really speak for what for what today is all about. Everyone of our military members here and our veterans know these words.
“I solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. I take this obligation freely and without any mental reservation.
“All who have worn the cloth of this nation raise their right hand and they repeat that oath. But it is so important that each of us, those who have given their lives and those who have served, you pledge that oath to the Constitution. That document protects all Americans. When they make that pledge, they are saying they will support and defend every American. And they do so. They are writing that blank check we have always heard about. To give their very lives if necessary, to defend this country and its people.”
At the conclusion of the program, attention turned to the unveiling of the monument. People stayed afterward to read the names.
The names of Neshoba County’s war dead are engraved on granite markers, grouped by the different wars they fought in. In front is a plaza constructed of memory bricks, along with four granite benches.
Ray Crocker, who led the committee that raised money and brought awareness of the effort to replace the monument, said more is expected.
“Today means that a year has gone by and we have pulled together to put this monument on the ground,” Crocker said. “It’s a blessing to have it on the ground. We aren’t through We want to make it better and it was fantastic to have been a part of this.”
It was expected the cost to replace the monument would been a little more than $100,000. With the support of individual donations brick sales and donations from local governments, the committee raised around $50,000.
Those efforts were hampered after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the shutdown last spring. State Rep. Scott Bounds and Sen. Jenifer Branning were able to garner support in the Legislature last summer to bring in another $50,000 and that got the ball rolling.
“When I talked to the leadership in the Senate and they realized what this was for, their mood changed,” Branning said. “They said ‘this is something we need to support.’”
The monument replaces one that was destroyed by a tornado more than a year ago. The new monument is placed near where the old monument stood.