Veterans remember those who didn't make it home

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

Even though school has been out for a few days, Dylan Reaves got a very important history lesson at the third annual Memorial Day Program at Veterans Park on Monday.
Reaves, 11, attended the ceremony with his grandfather William Davis. A Vietnam War veteran, Davis wanted his grandson to see and hear first-hand what Memorial Day was really about.
“A lot of kids these days think the holiday is just for barbecuing and seeing family,” said Davis, who lives in Booneville. “And if our children don’t know what the day is about then they’ll grow up and teach their children wrong and the men and women who died for this country will eventually be forgotten. So today he gets a history and life lesson that hopefully will last a lifetime.”
More than 300 people attend the program held at the Veterans Memorial at Veterans Park. The rows of American flags that lined the road leading to the memorial were the perfect setting for a day dedicated to honoring the men and women who have died protecting the nation.
Tupelo Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis said he was excited to see so many people turn out for such a good cause.
“I’m proud to have people here today to honor our fallen soldiers,” said Lewis. “This Veterans Memorial was opened in 2008 and this is what it’s for, to honor those men and women who fought and died for our country.”
Tupelo City Councilman Fred Pitts was the keynote speaker. Pitts was a member of the Mississippi Army National Guard.
As the ceremony drew to a close, some of the veterans like Sam Warren and James McGee talked about their experience in the military and about the men they lost on the battlefield.
Both Vietnam War veterans, Warren and McGee knew all too well the significance of Memorial Day.
“You never forget those you left behind,” said Warren, a Ripley resident. “You see their faces, hear their voices and think about them almost everyday. You thank God that you made it home, but you almost feel guilty because they didn’t. There hasn’t been a Memorial Day that I haven’t she tears. The memories are necessary but painful for us veterans.”
McGee shared Warren’s feelings.
“When you serve in war with someone, you all are family,” said Warren, of Tupelo. “You are brothers and it hurts to lose a brother. Even though I’m still here and healthy, the emotional wounds of losing a brother in battle is one that doesn’t heal.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.