City to commemorate fallen soldiers Tuesday

City to commemorate fallen soldiers Tuesday

Caption: Courtesy Photo

Nearly 42 million people in U.S. history have called themselves veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Of those 42 million, 1.2 million died while in service, away from their families, friends and communities. Another 1.4 million received non-mortal woundings.

Today, 17 million veterans of combat are alive, with another 23 million veterans of non-combat.

Nov. 11 will mark the 32nd year Hattiesburg has celebrated the lives of these men and women, according to Ted Tibbett, chairman of the Veterans Committee.

The Hattiesburg Veterans Day Program will begin ceremonies on Monday at 10 a.m. with the 24-hour guarding of the Veterans Memorial Park memorials – four granite pillars engraved with the names of 173 men and women killed in combat from World War II to present – by the Air Force ROTC.

Joshua Bowman, a junior geography major, will be one of the many participating in the guarding.

“It’s in remembrance of our fallen brothers and sisters,” Bowman said. “At the top of the memorial it says ‘lest we forget’ in bright white stone as a reminder to never forget those that went before us as well as their sacrifices.”

Tibbett said the park emerged during Mayor Bobby Chain’s time in office.

“Mayor Bobby Chain came up with the idea of the Veterans Memorial Park and an annual Veterans Day Program,” Tibbett said. “And so, the people of Hattiesburg, with city assistance, raised over $100,000 to make Veterans Memorial Park a reality.”

According to Hattiesburg.org, the park serves as “a memorial to local citizens who served or lost their lives in military service. With its fountain and green space, it is a popular gathering place for downtown events.”

Veterans Day came to be after the end of World War I.

In November 1919, approximately a year after the armistice that ended World War I, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of
Armistice Day.

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations,” Wilson said in regards to Armistice Day.

An act approved on May 13, 1938, established the 11th of November as Armistice Day, a legal annual holiday.

The day became a national holiday, calling for all business to suspend and parades to be held at 11 a.m in observation of those who dedicated their lives to the war effort.

“Veterans Day is a day of celebration, marking the end of World War I. The armistice was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,” Tibbett said.

Armistice Day became Veterans Day after an amendment passed on June 1, 1954, in order to honor American veterans of
all wars.

According to Tibbett, the Hattiesburg Veterans Day Program is the largest in the state, put on by the Veterans Committee, which is comprised of 20
veteran leaders.

The committee annually honors a Veteran of the Year.

The fourth annual Veterans Day Parade will begin at 9 a.m. on Veterans Day at Hardy Street Baptist Church, ending at the park at 10 a.m. where ceremonies will
pick up.

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