Never forget: Miss-Lou residents honor veterans at Memorial Day parade, ceremony

Published 10:26 pm Monday, May 28, 2018

NATCHEZ — Several dozen men and women gathered at Natchez National Cemetery on Monday for the 152nd Memorial Day Celebration.

Beyond the uniform, white headstones that mark the graves of veterans and their families, and beyond the American flags placed on each grave to honor the person beneath it, the crowd gathered to celebrate the men and women of the armed forces.

Among the elected officials and residents who crowded into the the cemetery’s pavilion was a smattering of uniformed officers — both those still actively serving and retired veterans.

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Darryl Brady, director of the Jackson Veterans Affairs Benefits Officer and keynote speaker, reminded listeners that World War I ended 100 years ago this year.

Though it was called “The War to End All Wars” Brady said America has found itself losing hundreds of thousands of people to war in the years since.

“The veterans who fought in the ‘War to End All Wars’ are all gone now,” he said.

And yet, he said, the battles go on.

This Memorial Day, Brady said, would be a day of remembrance for those who died and a day of gratitude to those who made it home.

“They did not fail us, and we must not fail them,” Brady said.

Local aldermen, supervisors and mayors from Natchez and Vidalia also joined in the celebration, with Vidalia’s Alderman Robert Gardner leading a rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Though originally not scheduled to sing, Gardner agreed to perform the song and, to his surprise, many in the crowd joined in.

“Glory, glory, hallelujah,” the crowd sang. “His truth is marching on.”

Skip Solomon, assistant director of the Natchez National Cemetery, said the Memorial Day celebration is almost entirely community-led.

“This is our 152nd celebration, and it’s a tradition that the community keeps going,” he said. “The community support we receive is wonderful.”

Before the ceremony ended, Doug McCallister, Vietnam War veteran and president of the Miss-Lou Veterans Coalition, said he hoped the gratitude shown on Memorial Day would extend beyond the holiday.

“May we all renew our commitment to putting God first in our lives,” he said. “And may we never forget the fallen soldiers.”