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Traveling tribute opens to public today

We have just witnessed one of the most important — if not the most important — aspects of a free and democratic nation: an election.

Regardless of what side you were on, the fact you freely were able to go to the polls and vote is a tribute to our great nation and democracy.

That freedom has been preserved, honored and kept vital by a group of men and women, some of whom sacrificed their lives. They are our veterans and soldiers.

This week and weekend we invite all in the Miss-Lou and places beyond to honor those veterans and soldiers by visiting the Miss-Lou Patriotic Tribute, and attending one or all of the special events at the Natchez Convention Center. Doors will be open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7 to 11 a.m. Sunday. There is no admission charge whatsoever.

The main attraction, of course, is the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, actually a group of tributes to our service men and women of all wars, as well as those who died on 9/11, firefighters and police, and much more. A 360-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a major portion of the tribute with all the names of those men and women (yes, there were women service members who died in Vietnam).

We will have helpers to assist those who wish to find the names of their loved ones on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

We will also have a Wall of Remembrance on which individuals may write tributes of their own. That wall will be photographed and depicted on our Miss-Lou Patriotic Tribute webpage: patriotic.cityofnatchez.org and Facebook page: Miss-Lou Patriotic Tribute.

Other features to the four-day event include:

4 Opening ceremonies, noon Thursday, featuring Col. Jerry “Chip” Butler, deputy commander, 66th Troop Command, Mississippi Army National Guard.

4 “A Salute to Soldiers and Loved Ones in Piano and Poetry,” 7 p.m. Thursday, with local author and veteran G. Mark LaFrancis, and noted pianist Sylvia Johns Ritchie, along with special guest reader. This will be an incredibly inspiring and enlightening program.

4 American Flag Retirement Ceremony, Saturday, 10 a.m., led by area scout leaders and scouts, along with help from Copiah-Lincoln Community College and area veterans. Individuals in the audience may participate in retiring a flag. If you have not experienced a formal flag ceremony, this is the time to attend.

4 Veterans Day Program, 11 a.m. Sunday, with keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Robert F. Thomas, commander, 66th Troop Command, Mississippi Army National Guard, along with the posthumous presentation of the Bronze Star and other honors to the family of the late Cpl. L. W. “Buck” Brown. Many other aspects of this program make this a special event.

It has been my honor to be associated with the small army of volunteers and helpers who have been hard at work planning this wonderful event. Ours is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to honoring and helping our Miss-Lou veterans. Our work will continue well beyond this week’s activities as a permanent resource for our local veterans.

So, please come by and experience this wonderful tribute and attend our special events.


Doug McCallister is event chairman for the Miss-Lou Patriotic Tribute Committee.