Mural pays tribute to fallen soldiers

TUPELO – Sixty-seven soldiers from Mississippi have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, and BancorpSouth is making sure people who walk into its downtown headquarters are aware of their sacrifices.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Traveling Mural, sponsored by the Military Order of the Purple Heart Organization in Mississippi, will be displayed in the bank’s lobby for the rest of the week.
The mural has photos of 65 soldiers with the year of their death. The two who aren’t on the mural were killed last week in Afghanistan.
Branch Manager Taylor Sanders said the bank was honored to host the mural.
“This is the headquarters for the whole BancorpSouth banking system, so a lot of traffic comes in this building,” said Sanders. “That means a lot of people will get a chance to see the pictures of these soldiers and remember and honor them for their sacrifices. We all need to honor and support our troops.”
For some, the mural shows men and women they’ve never met, but for Gold Star Moms Jill Self and Donna Bagwell, the mural is a giant thank-you card to their sons.
Gold Star Mothers is an organization of mothers who have had a son or daughter killed in war or while serving in the U.S. military.
Jill’s son, John Self, of Pontotoc was killed in Iraq in 2007. Donna’s son, Lucas Tucker, also of Pontotoc, was killed in Iraq in 2005.
“I am thankful that people have enough thought for what our sons and daughters did to honor them this way,” Self said. “They died serving our country and trying to help to defend the freedoms that we are accustomed to today.”
The mural will travel to BancorpSouth locations throughout Northeast Mississippi, with Booneville being the next stop. Jim Henley, a member of the Northeast Mississippi Patriot Guard Riders, is setting up and maintaining the mural during its travels.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com

Four mothers who have lost sons to war – from left, Pat Mounce, Jill Self, Stephanie Baldwyn and Donna Bagwell – spent Tuesday afternoon sharing stories about their soldier alongside the Iraq and Afghanistan Traveling Mural at BancorpSouth. Corp. Blake Mounce was a Marine who died in Iraq in 2005, as were Lance Cpl. Stephen T. Baldwyn and Donna Bagwell’s son, Lance Cpl. Lucas Tucker. Jill Self’s son, Staff Sgt. John T. Self, was in the Air Force and died in Iraq in 2007.

Donations accepted
Tax-deductible donations to help pay for the mural and its upkeep can be made to the Military Order of the Purple Heart Organization in Mississippi.
Make Checks payable to MOPH Traveling Mural and write “donation” in the lower left corner of the check.
Send the check to: Tom Sullivan, 1016 Sullivan Lane, Crystal Springs, MS 39059-9409.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal