By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Almost 100 veterans from north Mississippi were honored in advance of today’s Veterans Day with the dedication of the newest memorial to Tupelo’s Veterans Memorial Park.
A pavilion to house picnic tables at the park was presented to veterans and their families Saturday morning.
District Attorney Trent Kelly, who received the rank of colonel in Mississippi Army National Guard earlier this week, thanked the veterans of foreign wars and those who have served without being deployed.
“A veteran is a man or woman who, when their country called, didn’t look to their left or right but raised their hand and said, ‘send me,’” Kelly said. “It doesn’t matter if you served in combat or not. My father served from 1959 to 2001 in the Mississippi Army National Guard and retired as a first sergeant and never served a day of combat but never doubted he was just as much of a soldier as I am.”
He also thanked those who have been deployed.
“You can never have a Veterans Day service without recognizing our greatest generation,” he said. “Thank you so much, because you are why we have this great nation we have today.”
Kelly said Vietnam and Korean war veterans knew they wouldn’t receive a thankful welcome home like World War II veterans received.
“When you see a Vietnam and Korean war veteran, thank them twice because they still have one coming to them and then we always give one to our servicemen and women,” he said.
He then thanked the newest generation of veterans who have gone to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Never doubt these 18- and 19-year-old kids have the same values and love this country and have commitment,” he said. “Every one of them chooses to serve this country. They all serve voluntarily.”
World War II veteran Eugene Spearman, who flew 34 B-17 bombing missions over Germany, said often saying thanks is the best a person can do.
“I’m thankful that they remember and honor us veterans,” he said.
After the service, representatives of the Walmart on North Gloster Street presented the Vietnam Replica Wall Committee with a $1,000 check to go toward the replica memorial at Veterans Park.
Committee member Janie Alexander said the group is one-third of the way to the estimated $750,000 cost.
Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said the park still needs flags and memorial pieces. Donations can be made in honor of veterans at the Tupelo Parks and Recreation Department website. Donations to the Vietnam memorial wall can be made at MSVietnamMemorial.com.