Memorial Day plans altered in Panola

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Batesville Square program will be shorter, Sardis event canceled for now

Staff Report

Memorial Day is more than a federal holiday to a considerable contingent of patriotic Panolians, evidenced by the great fanfare of programs presented in Batesville and Sardis in years past.

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Those displays of affection for America are important events in the county, but they will be modified and limited on Monday, May 25, in this, the year of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Sardis, American Legion Post 127, led by Commander Wade Hudson, has canceled its traditional Memorial Day celebration,  a somber service at historic Rose Hill Cemetery where a speaker reminds attendees of past sacrifices and current obligations for the freedoms many enjoy, some even unaware of the nation’s history.

Post 127 provides small American Flags for every grave of a military veteran buried at Rose Hill, and the celebration finale is the placing of those markers near each designated headstone. Those flags will be put out on the veterans’ graves at a future date.

“We pray that our community will remember the sacrifices of the brave American men and women who gave their lives to secure the freedoms we now enjoy,” Hudson said. “Freedom is not free, and many Americans paid the price with their lives. We pray that God will continue to bless America and everyone in Panola County.”

In Batesville, the Downtown Square is the site of the annual Memorial Day program organized by the Exchange Club, and well attended each year. This year’s program will be the first official event held on the Square since the lifting of the stay at home orders caused by the pandemic.

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen had previously given permission to the Main Street office to open the popular Square Market the first week of June with vegetable and fruit vendors observing distancing guidelines. On Tuesday, they voted to allow the Square to host the Exchange Club program.

“Memorial Day is so important to many of Batesville’s citizens and the Exchange Club does a great job with the program every year that it will be a good thing to get the Square going back in the right direction and having activity downtown,” said Mayor Jerry Autrey. “We are still asking everyone to keep the same safety measures in place and keep plenty of distance while they pay their respects to our veterans that made the sacrifices so we can be free.”

This year’s program will be an abbreviated one, according to Exchange Club members, but no less important than the usual fanfare. The program will begin at 11 a.m.

Sara Dale Shaffer will again proffer a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem with the Fire Department’s large American Flag raised high and fluttering in the breeze, weather permitting.

Batesville’s Boy Scout Troop 478, under the direction of Scoutmaster Jim Whitten and Asst. Scoutmaster Smith Murphey, will present the traditional flags.

Law enforcement officer Clint Robertson will read “That Ragged Old Flag,” a moving poem made famous when writer Johnny Cash penned it as a response to the Watergate scandal in 1974.

Organizers said everyone wanting to attend should remember that best practice guidelines suggest that families should stay together, groups should not stand closely together, and at least six feet should be kept between people at all times.