Luncheon features news of upcoming veterans tributePublished 12:03am Wednesday, August 15, 2012
VIDALIA — Honor, respect, remember.
Those three words led to an emotional presentation Tuesday from Douglas McCallister, event chairman for the Miss-Lou patriotic tribute committee, during a Miss-Lou regionalism luncheon at the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.
The American Veterans Traveling Tribute is a traveling exhibit consisting of several memorials that span every war and conflict in which the United States has been involved.
After seeing the exhibit himself more than five years ago in Magee, McCallister said he began the process of bringing it to the Miss-Lou.
“The first thing I said when I saw it was just, ‘We need for this to come to Natchez, Mississippi,’” McCallister said. “It took some divine intervention from a lot of people, groups and committees, but we were finally able to figure out a way.”
From Thursday, Nov. 8 to Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, the tribute exhibit will be at the Natchez Convention Center available for Miss-Lou residents to come and visit free of charge.
The tribute includes a traveling Vietnam Memorial wall, a display of gold dog tags in memory of fallen soldiers, memorials for soldiers of the Iraq War, Afghanistan War, World War II, Korean War, Cold War and a memorial for families lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.
The traveling Vietnam wall on display in Natchez is a half scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., and McCallister said it has a special place in his heart.
“As a Vietnam veteran, for me on a personal level, I give thanks daily to God that my name is not on that wall,” McCallister said. “But this gives us a chance to honor our comrades that were less fortunate, and it also allows the veterans to share their stories and experiences with one another.”
McCallister gave a presentation regarding the traveling exhibit at the luncheon in hopes of finding contributors and sponsors to pay for the cost of bringing the exhibit to Natchez.
“There are significant costs to book the exhibit to come here and also a lot of costs to promote and handle the exhibit,” McCallister said. “But we’ve been seeing such a great response from the groups and committees that it really reinforces the notion that patriotism runs rampant in Natchez, Concordia Parish and the surrounding areas.”
For more information on how to donate or volunteer with the exhibit, visit www.patriotic.cityofnatchez.org or call 1-800-647-6724.
Two recognizable Miss-Lou faces were also honored Tuesday at the luncheon for several years of dedicated service to the Miss-Lou regionalism efforts.
Former Natchez and Ferriday mayors Jake Middleton and Glen McGlothin were presented with awards to commemorate their time served on the Miss-Lou Regionalism Steering Committee.
“Our first effort was to join hands and work together as a community, and I think we’ve come a long way from that,” said Heather Malone, Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial Development Director. “We appreciate everything you’ve done, and you may no longer be meeting with us monthly, but I know you’ll continue the regionalism efforts.”
McGlothin said he was always a firm believer in regionalism, but wasn’t quite sure how to respond to the award.
“My daddy always said when you start getting awards, you’re about to pass, but I’m not going anywhere,” McGlothin said. “We’re not a big enough community to do this on our own, so we need everybody to get involved, because that’s what it’s going to take.”
Middleton said he agreed with McGlothin’s statements and was proud to have served with the group for the past four years.
“It’s been a pleasure, and this is a really great group,” Middleton said. “This group has really moved the Miss-Lou forward.”
The new mayors in Natchez and Ferriday, Butch Brown and Gene Allen, will take the places of Middleton and McGlothin, but neither were present at the luncheon.