By Terry Harpole For the WPT
MATHISTON — In towns all across Mississippi and the nation, many Veterans Day programs were held Saturday as this year Nov. 11 fell on Sunday. The town of Mathiston, with a population of less than 1,000, was no exception.
A large crowd gathered Saturday afternoon at Mathiston First Baptist Church to honor all men and women who are veterans of any branch of the military, and to honor those who gave their lives in wars. The program was to honor some Mathiston men who are veterans and some of the men from Mathiston who died in the military.
This idea for the program came into being a few years ago with the beginning of the Mathiston Development and Support Council, whose executive director is Lavelle McAlpin, with the support of many others.
The program opened with a warm welcome by McAlpin and then the benediction by Jake Perkins, a veteran, himself. Dr. Leon Wilson, a retired educator and former member of the Mississippi Legislature who has been a mentor to many people in the area, led the people in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Those in attendance were blessed by the singing of the national anthem by Kylee McMinn.
Many veterans from the area attended, and each was recognized and presented an American flag. The program also included the presentation of the colors by the Starkville High School Jr. ROTC, along with the playing of “Taps” by their bugler.
State Sen. Gary Jackson and state Rep. Joey Hood presented Mayor Jimmy Carden and the town of Mathiston a proclamation signed by Mississippi’s governor and lieutenant governor honoring all those in the area who had lost their lives in war and all the veterans still living.
In his keynote address, Jackson said he knew members of the military had to have priorities and had to keep in mind their service to the country.
“I know I would find that hard to do because I would be thinking about my children and grandchildren,” he said. “We want to remember and give thanks to those men who served in the military, not knowing if they would ever see their families again.”
Plans are being made for a monument for the 14 men from Mathiston who died in wars. It will be placed in a 3-acre lot, purchased by the town, between the park and the baseball and tennis areas.
Bill Mann, an architect from Starkville and Mathiston High School graduate, designed the monument and presented a rendering to the group.
After the program, a reception and meal was held in the fellowship hall. This time included much visiting and stories being told about the veterans as all 14 of the men from Mathiston who gave their lives in wars were called out in the program.