Local residents honor war dead
SALUTE Preston Pierson lays flowers Monday and salutes his uncle, who died during World War II. Billy Edney stands behind him to salute his uncle, who also died in World War II. Flowers were given to those who wanted to pay tribute to the war dead at Memorial Day services at the Lauderdale County Courthouse. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
May 29, 2001
Despite ominous clouds, hundreds of residents turned out Monday for Memorial Day observance ceremonies as Lauderdale County honored local soldiers killed in combat.
Between 200-250 people gathered near the steps of the Lauderdale County Courthouse, in front of county's War Memorial that bears the names of military service personnel who died in combat. In honor of those local war dead, names were read aloud.
Attendees heard remarks by Lt. Col. Jim White, Support Group Commander with the 186th Air Refueling Wing.
White said more than 62 million people died or were injured as a result of fighting during the five major military conflicts of the 20th Century: World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm.
White said he longs for the day when the world learns from its mistakes and there will be no wars. But, until that time comes, the men and women of the America's armed forces needed to be prepared.
For many people attending the services, the day was more than just paying homage. It was a chance to remember relatives and friends.
Jimmie Slay somberly walked up to the stone monument where his father's name, James E. Slay, is listed among soldiers killed in World War II.
Slay, who is also Lauderdale County's Tax Assessor, said Memorial Day has always had a special place in his heart and always will because of the sacrifices of men like his father.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at email@example.com.