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Never forget those who gave their lives

For many people Monday was a holiday, a day to hang out by the pool, cookout or just to loaf around the house and take it easy.

For a couple of hundred people in the Miss-Lou, however, Monday was Memorial Day, a day to honor our nation’s fallen heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation’s freedoms.

Many Miss-Lou residents took it a step further than just turning out for a memorial service at the Natchez National Cemetery.

They participated in the annual march from Vidalia, across the Mississippi River bridge and up to the Natchez National Cemetery on Cemetery Road.

Monday was the 153rd year for the annual Miss-Lou Memorial Day parade that started in 1867 when the marchers had to catch a ferry to cross the Mississippi River.

Later, when the Mississippi River bridge was constructed in the 1940s the tradition continued with the marchers actually walking across the bridge.

The annual Miss-Lou Memorial Day Parade is a unique celebration that unites the Miss-Lou as a region beyond our states’ borders and brings us together as a community.

Indeed, veterans, members of JROTC programs and bands from both Natchez and Vidalia schools participated in Monday’s celebration along with elected representatives from both sides of the river.

Laura Ann Jackson who grew up on Cemetery Road in Natchez has been participating in the annual event since she was 3 years old, and she has some 20 relatives buried in the Natchez National Cemetery.

For the past eight years Jackson has coordinated the annual event as chairperson of the Miss-Lou Memorial Day Parade.

It is a tradition Jackson believes in and she is obviously a patriotic individual as she wears red, white and blue in the days around the annual Memorial Day event.

Jackson said she believes it is important for people to recognize our fallen heroes.

At Monday’s event, hundreds of people — young and old — did just that, braving the heat and the noonday sun to pay tribute to our fallen heroes.

Members of the Natchez High School JROTC presented the colors and young people sang the national anthem and other patriotic songs as veterans representing every branch of the nation’s armed forces sat in silence in tribute to those fallen heroes buried on the grounds.

As I observed the ceremony, I could not help but think of the freedoms we so often take for granted, such as our right to assemble peacefully. Our right to express our views, our right to criticize elected officials, our right to vote our conscience and our right to publish our thoughts and hold our elected officials accountable for their actions and how they spend our tax dollars.

All of those rights came at a cost through numerous wars, not the least of which included the Revolutionary War, World War I and World War II, that have gained and protected our freedoms through the ages when they have been threatened by hostile forces.

We should never forget the people who died for the cause, and we should do our part to protect our freedoms by exercising our rights to vote, assemble peacefully and challenge ideas and causes that threaten our very freedoms.

Never forget.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat reach him at scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com or 601-445-3540.

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