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Community Honors Fallen Soldiers

More than 100 people gathered at the Veterans Monument in Railroad Park to honor those who have died in the service of their country. Rep. Tommy Reynolds (left) was among several speakers who reminded those present to be thankful for the sacrifices made by America’s veterans. – Photos by Jack Gurner

Betty Hart sang the National Anthem.

Mayor Larry Hart called Memorial Day a day of remembering.

Joyce Phillips, Ladies Auxiliary President, reminded everyone that freedom is not free.

Major George W. Vinsant was the guest speaker at Monday’s Memorial Day observance downtown. He is with the Army ROTC at the University of Mississippi and a veteran of two tours in Iraq.

Major Vinzant said that it is fitting for a community and a country to take the time to remember those who gave their lives while serving their country.

By Jack Gurner
Reporter

Go see the video on YouTube.

WATER VALLEY – The sound of taps echoed in our nation’s capitol and downtown at Railroad Park as Americans gathered Monday on Memorial Day to honor those who have died in the service of their country.

“We’re gathered here today to honor our fallen comrades who gave their lives so gallantly in defense of the freedom we enjoy in our everyday lives,” said Commander Sam Phillips of VFW Post 4100 as he introduced Rev. David Ross, Pastor of Camp Ground Baptist Church, who opened the 11 a.m. ceremony with a prayer.

“I thank God for those who have given their life so that we can stand here today and thank God that we live in a country that is free,” Ross said, commenting on America’s religious freedom.

After the prayer, Betty Hart sang the National Anthem as faces turned skyward toward Old Glory flying in the warm breeze over the Veteran’s Monument in Railroad Park.

Mayor Larry Hart called Memorial Day a day of remembering. “I know that each one of us has someone on our mind and on our heart that we remember today.”

Representative Tommy Reynolds spoke next, reflecting on the history of Memorial Day. He explained that the observance is said to have started on May 5, 1868, as Decoration Day. There was a proclamation by the President to recognize those who had recently fought in the Civil War.

Reynolds said that this year we honored the last veteran of World War I, former Cpl. Frank Buckles of West Virginia, who died at 110. And, he added, we also note the 70th anniversary of America’s entry into World War II in 1941.

On Dec. 7 of that year, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor killing 3500 Americans in an attempt to destroy the Pacific Fleet. Before the war would end, he continued, 405,000 American would die and 800,000 would be wounded.

“We need to remember the sacrifices made each and every day by the fighting men and women of our country,” he said. “On them all our rights and all our freedoms and all our hopes for a better tomorrow for us and our children hang.”

Joyce Phillips, Ladies Auxiliary President, was the next speaker. She reminded everyone that freedom is not free. She said the Ladies of the Auxiliary are doing their part by supporting “our country and our veterans.”

She said although Memorial Day is a day of memorial tributes, we also need to remember those who are still fighting for us. To that end, VFW Post 4100 has adopted the local National Guard unit, the 289th Vertical Company of Water Valley. The unit is scheduled to deploy again next year and the local post is forming a family support group.

Commander Phillips then introduced the guest speaker for the day, Major George W. Vinsant, Recruiting Operations Officer/Executive Officer for the Army ROTC at the University of Mississippi.

Major Vinzant enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1981 and served seven years as an enlisted Marine. Upon leaving the Corps, he attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned in 1990 from the Mississippi Military Academy as an Infantry Officer.

He served in Iraq in 2005 and 2009. He is married to Tammy Badeaux Vinzant since 1985 and they have three children, Olivia, John, and Mary Katherine.

Major Vinzant said that it is fitting for a community and a country to take the time to remember those who gave their lives while serving their country. He quoted former President Ronald Regan who said, “No weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.”

The Major added that he, like many in the military who have served in a foreign county, have returned home humbled by the prosperity and freedoms we enjoy here in America. “We are a nation greatly blessed.”

He pointed out that not all who have returned home were welcomed or appreciated. “Many returned to friends and family who did not understand what these men and women had seen and experienced during their tours.”

Vinzant acknowledged the veterans gathered at the ceremony for their service and the service men and women still serving around the world. He made special mention of the families, past and present, who “sacrifice in a way that surpasses the limits of imagination.”

“Words cannot express my gratitude for your service, all so that the people of this country might enjoy the freedoms and liberties they hold dear.”

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