WATER VALLEY – Memorial Day was observed Monday by VFW Post 4100 at the monument in Railroad Park. About 75 people gathered on Main Street at 11 a.m. to honor the memory of those who have given their lives in the service of their country.
Post Commander Joe Gross opened the ceremonies and asked Korean War veteran Jim Allen to offer a prayer.
Gross then presented Mary Presley, who he described as a “Gold Star Grandmother.” Presley’s grandson, Cpl. Michael Brandon Presley, was killed in Iraq in 2005. A poem was read about Cpl. Presley, who grew up in Panola County.
Gross introduced Representative Tommy Reynolds who spoke about the sacrifices made by America’s veterans. He said that it was the duty of every American to show respect for those who protect our freedom now, and in the past.
Reynolds emphasized the valor of America’s fighting men and women and gave the example of four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other soldiers during the sinking of the USAT Dorchester during World War II. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their life jackets when the supply ran out.
After Reynolds spoke, Bobbie Roberson of Courtland, district head of the VFW Auxiliary and Wayne Redwine, post chaplain, placed wreaths at the monument.
Roberson explained the significance of the VFW Buddy Poppies that she had earlier pinned on most of those in attendance. She reported that for more than 75 years, the poppy program has raised millions of dollars in support of veterans’ welfare.
She added that today, VFW Buddy Poppies are still assembled by disabled and needy veterans in VA Hospitals.
As the program ended, Gross called everyone to attention. Taps was played as the American flag was lowered to half-staff, a traditional part of the Memorial Day ceremony.
Gross then asked the approximately 30 vets in attendance to assemble for a photograph in front of the monument.
“I guess if we didn’t do this, nobody would,” Gross commented.
Elsewhere, President George W. Bush placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns before speaking at a national cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The President told an audience estimated in the thousands that national leaders must have the “courage and character” to preserve peace and freedom.
“On this Memorial Day, I stand before you as the commander in chief and try to tell you how proud I am,” Bush said.
The presidential candidates also made appearances Monday. Both Barack Obama and John McCain were in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Obama held a town hall style meeting with veterans while McCain appeared at a memorial.
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s Memorial Day service came at the end of the day. She appeared at the capitol building in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and spoke on the need to give Puerto Ricans the right to vote.