Programs highlight Memorial Day weekend

Published 11:16 am Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Exchange Club has Batesville observance, American Legion in Sardis

By Jeremy Weldon

Several programs honoring America’s military who died in wars and conflicts will be held in Panola County this weekend and on Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

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The Exchange Club of Batesville will present the official program for the city at 11 a.m. Monday on the Downtown Square. Col. Robert D. Ferguson, 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Mississippi Army National Guard will be the guest speaker

A color guard from South Panola High School will be on hand for the ceremony and Sara Dale Shaffer will sing the National Anthem. SFC (Ret.) Leroy Matthews will play taps.

In Sardis, the American Legion Post 127 will hold its annual Memorial Day service at 10 a.m. at Rose Hill Cemetery where guests will have an opportunity to help place small American Flags on the graves of those killed in active military action.

Lt. Col. Tammie McKinney-Sledge, an attorney in the United States Air Force, will be the guest speaker. She is a native of Panola County and graduated NPHS in 1990.

Col. Ferguson, 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Mississippi Army National Guard, has combat experience consisting of three deployments in support of the Global War of Terrorism, and his brigade has served in 13 different Middle East countries and more than 30 separate locations.

Col. Ferguson’s awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (with one oak leaf cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters), and the Army Commendation Medal (two oak leaf clusters). He is a 2015 graduate of the U.S. Army War College and completed a National Security Fellowship at Harvard University.

He is also a graduate of Command General Staff College and is an educator in the DeSoto County School District.

Decoration Day was first observed by southern states who wished to honor those soldiers who died during the Civil War, and many towns and communities continue with the tradition. That day became Memorial Day after a series of proclamations by U.S. Presidents over time.

Memorial Day became an official federal holiday, marked for the last Monday in May, in 1971.

Many places in the United States claim to be the first to have held a Memorial Day observance, but only one small town has that official distinction. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation stating that Waterloo, N.Y., is the originator of Memorial Day in the U.S. The town held its first observance for fallen soldiers on May 5, 1866.

Cutline:   Col. Ferguson