By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – At times the sun shown brightly; other times raindrops fell.
The weather was reminiscent of Europe 65 years, commented one World War II veteran who participated in the Memorial Day observance Monday at the monument in Railroad Park.
About 50 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.
VFW Post 4100 Commander Sam Phillips opened the ceremonies and asked Korean War veteran Jim Allen to offer a prayer. Shirley Berry sang the Star Spangled Banner.
Phillips then introduced Robert Wayne Sprouse, Post Chaplin and native of Water Valley who spent 23 years the military. Sprouse, who graduated from WVHS in 1975, was connected to three different branches during his military service.
He joined the Navy and became a pharmacist mate and worked with the Marines as a medic. Later he joined the Army National Guard. He served in Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991.
Sprouse spoke on the history of Memorial Day and explained that it originally was called Decoration Day. He said that it was officially proclaimed by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, on May 5, 1868.
It was first observed on May 30 of that year when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Sprouse added that a springtime tribute to the Civil War dead had already been held two years before in Mississippi. A group of women in Columbus visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate dead.
The women were disturbed at the sight of nearby Union graves that were bare, so they placed flowers on them as well.
In honor of that tradition, Jody Bailey, a member of Post 4100, and Kathy Dunn, President of the Lady’s Auxiliary, placed wreaths on the Veterans’ Monument. The veterans came to attention as Taps was played.
Phillips then 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 quoted 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith.”
Other speakers included Yalobusha County Sheriff Lance Humphreys and Water Valley Mayor-elect Larry Hart.
Phillips then asked the approximately 26 vets in attendance to assemble for a photograph in front of the monument.
Elsewhere, Barack Obama participated in his first Memorial Day ceremony as president at a wreath-laying in Arlington National Cemetery.