Name is added to county’s memory
By John Howell
Monday’s 40th anniversary observance of the unveiling of the Batesville Exchange Club Memorial Monument on the Public Square includes a Memorial Day program that connects with a hot day in May, 1977 when it was first dedicated.
Monday’s observance will also include an unveiling — this time of a Panola County Marine killed in the Vietnam War whose name has just joined those of other casualties of that war.
The observance begins at 11 a.m.
Speaker Command Sergeant Major Keith Ales is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 223rd Engineer Battalion, the first Mississippi National Guard Unit deployed in the Iraq War, having served there from January, 2003 through April, 2004. Prior to deployment in Iraq, Ales served in Nicaragua, Germany and Korea during a long Guard career that began with his 1970 enlistment.
Opening with prayer will be Ed Woodall, Methodist Church pastor who gave the invocation at the 1977 dedication and also served as the Exchange Club’s program chairman for the dedication. Woodall’s prayer will be followed by the posting of the colors by the South Panola Air Force JROTC
Placing the wreath during Monday’s program will be Kay Hasseltine and Kay Kay Smith, widows of Dr. Lee Hasseltine and Ben Barrett Smith who placed the original wreath in 1977.
Army veteran and Exchange Club member Calvin Land will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the Pope School Choir singing the National Anthem. The choir will also sing a Salute to the Armed Forces.
Clint Roberson will recite “Ragged Old Flag” a tribute to the U.S. flag written and originally released by Johnny Cash when the nation was under the dark shadow of the Watergate scandal in 1974.
In addition to recognizing all veterans in memory of those who died in service to the country, the program will acknowledge the family of Clarence Jones, killed in Vietnam in 1968, whose family will be holding a reunion in Batesville during the Memorial Day weekend. Family members are expected include Teresa Jones, his daughter who was born weeks after his death.
J. C. Whiting Jr. is the name newly etched into the monument that will be unveiled Monday. Whiting was was also killed in Vietnam in 1968, just a few months after Jones. The Como resident had joined the Marines after having lived in Memphis and is also listed as a Tennessee casualty. When Exchange Club members were informed of his background, plans were made to add his name to the monument. Whiting’s family and friends will be recognized during the rededication.
A spokesperson for the Honor and Remember organization will present a special flag to the family of Brandon Presley. Presley was serving as a Marine in Iraq when he was killed in 2005. The Honor and Remember Flag has been designed as a memorial to fallen service men and women.
Lisa Tingle of Hattiesburg will make the Honor and Remember presentation, followed by “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” sung by 12-year-old Sandra Harmon.
Rededication of the monument will include the laying of the wreath followed by the sounding of Taps.
Tony Barragan will briefly open his Square Cafe following the rededication to serve refreshments to veterans and their families. In case of a downpour, the entire ceremony will be moved inside the cafe.
Participants are reminded to bring lawn chairs for comfortable seating and umbrellas for extra shade.