Memorial Day Program Honors 231 Shelby County Soldiers

June 1, 2023 (Photo Album- VFW Post 8904 and the Post Auxiliary hosted a Memorial Day Program honoring those Shelby County soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Attendees arriving at the John D. Windham Civic Center were greeted with flags of the Armed Services and the silhouettes of soldier leading up to the entrance. Post Member Mary Roberts served as the master of ceremony welcoming all, "Good morning and welcome this Memorial Day, May 29, 2023." She then introduced Pastor Josh Crawford, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, to give the invocation. Pastor Crawford opened his prayer saying, "Jesus, your Word says that there is no greater love than to lay down ones life for a friend. Today we pray for those men and women who have sacrificed their time, strength, bravery, health, and even their lives for friends, known and unknown."

Following the invocation, Past Post Commander Gene Hutto and Senior Vice Elect Mike Wulf preformed the posting of the ceremonial rifle, the battle cross. Roberts then explained, "The Battle Cross is a visible reminder of the fallen we honor here and across our nation today. The helmet and dog tags signify those who died in the service of our country - their names must never be forgotten. The inverted rifle with bayonet signals a time of prayer and tribute to our departed and missing comrades. The combat boots represents the final march of those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today."

David Mathis, Minister of Worship and Education for First Baptist Church of Center played the keyboard during the program as needed. Melody Golden sang the National Anthem - 'The Star Spangled Banner.'

Roberts welcomed everyone and asked those in the audience with active military family members to stand as well as any veterans so that they could all be recognized.

Voice of Democracy essay contest Post 8904 winner and state finalist, Maisyn Moore was invited to the podium to read her essay. Her winning essay was focused on why a veteran is important and she highlighted a quote by Elmer Davis - “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” She then highlighted the sacrifices of the brave men and women, our veterans. Following the reading of her essay, Moore was presented with a plaque.

First Baptist Church Trio then sang "In Flanders Fields" standing behind the podium which was surrounded by handmade poppies. The poppy table clothes were from a 2018 project of the Post to crochet or knit poppies to cover the courthouse lawn and create a "weeping window" display of poppies which they did. The Trio's performance was beautifully done.

Roberts then directed everyone's attention to the POW/MIA Missing Man Table and explained all the elements of the table. The white cloth symbolized the purity of those who answered the call to serve. The single red rose in a vase reminds of the lives of these Americans and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith while seeking answers. The yellow ribbon symbolizes our continued uncertainty, hope for the return, and determination to account for that. A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in foreign land. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for the answers after decades of uncertainty. The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return, alive or dead. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country. The glass is inverted representing the fact that our missing and fallen cannot partake. The chair is empty because they are missing.

The Roll Call of Honor was then done while members of the audience placed red, blue, and white flowers on the memorial wreath. The 231 names read were:

Roll Call of Honor Memorial Wreath with 231 names remembered. The bow represents those unknown.
Mexican - American War
Pvt. William Graves
Pvt. Prince B. Hawes
Pvt. Ezekiel T. Hewett
Pvt. Oliver Latharp
Pvt. Richard Manning
Pvt. Gabriel H. Moore
Pvt. Abner Nail
Pvt. John R. Robbins
Cpl. Jacob Sessum
Pvt. Alfred Sisk
Pvt. Robert Smith
Pvt. Ephraim Story
Pvt. Peter Tidwell
Pvt. Jackson West

American Civil War
Pvt. William T. Baker, Sr.
Frank Biggar
Richard S. Biggar
James T. Booth
D.C. Brandon
James M. Choate
Stephen C. Christian
Joseph Duncan
W.J. Freeland
Oscar F. Hall
James Harkness
Cpl. John W.I. Hayes
James T. Hopkins
Pvt. Andrew F. Hughes
Sam H. Latham
Stephen N. Latham
Pvt. Joseph H. McCary
David M. Mouser
Benjamin F. Newman
Pvt. Jesse Oates
Stephen N. Power
Benjamin N. Schooler
James M. Solomon
G.H. Stevens 

Spanish/Philippine Insurrection-American War
Pvt. Elijah Webb

World War I
Seaman Joe L. Adams
Pvt. Preston Archer
1 Lt. Norfleet Armstrong
Pvt. Clyde A. Chance
Pvt. Jimmie E. Chandler
PFC Freddie E. Choate
Pvt. Norman G. Crocker
GM3C Devoe Ferguson
Pvt. Jodie M. Ferguson
Pvt. James E. Fielder
Pvt. Louis Franklin
Cpl. Thomas H. Franks
Pvt. Bert Gordon
Pvt. Ira F. Hoffman
Pvt. Irvin F. Hunter
Seaman Oscar Latimer
PFC Albert W. Lewis
FSgt. Fred R. Lindsey
Pvt. Benice N. Mancil
Pvt. Ferman H. McCann
Pvt. Clyde T. Morrison
Pvt. John B. Norman
PFC Stephen H. Oates
Pvt. Calvin K. Ramey
Pvt. Alexander D. Ramsey
Pvt. Robert L. Ramsey
Pvt. John Sharp
Sgt. Ernest H. Shipp
Pvt. John Stanton
Pvt. Joe Taylor
Pvt. Wilburn Taylor
Pvt. John W. Temple
Pvt. Nathaniel H. Tims
Pvt. Boss Turner
Pvt. Bernice Tyson
Pvt. Norman G. Vaught
PFC Noah H. Warr
Seaman Barney Webb
Pvt. John N. Yeary
Pvt. George M. Yeats

World War II
PFC John C.B. Alford
PFC Ernest W. Allen
Major Ralph Amoss
Pvt. John C. Anderson
Sgt. Nolan Anderson
Sgt. William L. Anding
PFC Lloyd Andrews
Seaman Cecil A. Armstreet
Sgt. Bruce C. Baker, Jr.
Pvt. Marvin Beard
PFC James L. Beckham
SSgt. Oscar L. Belser
Pvt. Ray W. Bolton
Pvt. Joseph B. Brannon
Sgt. Richard D. Bray
Cpl. Urdong Brinson
Tech 5 Bryan N. Brittain
PFC Thomas B. Brittain, Jr.
PFC Lee O. Brunson
SSgt. Edmond T. Burgess, Jr.
2 Lt. John B. Byrn
SSgt. E. C. Campbell
Cpl. Jack E. Carter
Pvt. Huston Cartwright
PFC Rayford H. Ceal
Pvt. Raymond H. Chance
Sgt. Phillip H. Childs
Pvt. James A. Cleveland
PFC Royce C. Collum
PFC Bobbie B. Compton
Pvt. Joseph S. Connell
2 Lt. Marvin K. Crausby
TSgt. Delton Cravey
SSgt. Richard E. Crawford
Pvt. Troy Crawford
Cpl. Bobby A. Crump
PFC Barron B. Davis
PFC Early E. Davis
2 Lt. Robert E. Daw, Jr.
Wiper Lewis V. Dockens
Captain Reed H. Dominy
MSgt. Roy V. Duncan
SSgt. Austin E. Dunaway
Sgt. William P. Durham
Cpl. Arlie L. Eddins
Cpl. O.J. Edwards
Robert Henry Essery
Louis Fishman
SSgt. Charles R. Frame
SSgt. Everett A. Gaines
Pvt. Tom Gant
Pvt. Randle B. Golden
TSgt. E. C. Gunnels
Oiler Hubert B. Haley
1 Lt. Hulen M. Hardage
Pvt. Pershing H. Harvey
Ensign Walter B. Henry
Pvt. Ralph D. Herndon
PFC Dudley D. Holt
PFC Harold W. Hooper
PFC William S. Hopkins
PFC Preston O. Huckabay
SSgt. Roy D. Hughes
Pvt. Arther T. Hutcherson
SSgt. Walter B. Hutto
PFC Leroy Johnson
2 Lt. Curtis Jolley
Sgt. Carl H. Jones
PFC Johnnie L. Jones
Pvt. James R. Kirkland
Tech 4 Willie D. Lathon
Cpl. Johnnie M. Lee
Pvt. Howard L. Lovell
Pvt. Clarence M. Mahan
PFC Ernest E. Mahan
PFC Charlie D. Majors
PFC Bryan McCallum, Jr.
PFC James A. McDaniel
SSgt. John R. Miller
Sgt. John W. Minter
Tech 4 Roy H. Mitchell
PFC Thomas L. Mitchell
Woodrow W. Moro
PFC Jimmie H. Mott
Pvt. Hoya B. Murphy
Pvt. L.C. Netherly
2 Lt. Kenneth N. Nicholson
PFC Robert L. Norris
PFC Joe L. Odom
Avn. Cadet Steve H. Oates
Pvt. Allie J. Oliver
SSgt. James E. Pate
Cpl. Pershing H. Pate
Pvt. Jack T. Powell
Pvt. Arlen R. Rhame
SSgt. Ben R. Rhodes
Pvt. Postell Richard
Lt. (JG) Darwin A. Risinger
Pvt. George O. Rivers, Jr.
2 Lt. John C. Scott
2 Lt. Benjamin M. Simon
PFC Hugh J. Smith
Pvt. Choron Smothermon
PFC Rennie C. Snider, Jr.
PFC Luther T. Spurlock
S1C Johnny F. Stack
Captain Robert Swanzy
PFC James P. Tindol
1 Lt. William R. Todd
Cpl. Richard M. Wallace
Sgt. Vernon B. Walters
Cpl. Sidney E. Watson
PFC Arvin D. Webb
GSgt. Robert H. Wharton
Pvt. E. C. White
PFC Marion Bedford Whiteside, Jr.
PFC Robert Wilburn
SK3C Claude M. Wilkerson
SSgt. Clifton Williams
RM1C Eligie P. Williams
SSgt. Elmer E. Williams
SK3C Ray D. Williams
Pvt. Wrayful Willis
Sgt. Julius R. Windham
PFC Melvin T. Windham
SSgt. Silvanus Winfrey, Jr.
2 Lt. Harry H. Womack
PFC Albert Youngblood

Korean War
PFC Floyd Harris
TSgt. Clifford Hughes
SFC Johnnie V. Mena
PFC Bobbie F. Mock
CT3C Billy C. Stephenson
PFC Leonard Williams
Pvt. Willie J. Wilson
Willie E. Windham 

Vietnam War
PFC Ted W. Adams
Spec 4 William L. Andrews
PFC Jimmy D. Barnett
PFC Mac C. Buckley
PFC Larry S. Byford
S1C Ray A. Chatelain, Jr.
William H. Eaden
Sgt. Jerry L. Hughes
Major Taylor D. Johnson
Cpl. John B. Lightfoot
Spec 4 Samuel R. Lynch
PFC Calvin R. Patrick
Spec 4 John W. Stilley

War on Terrorism
Spec. Larry E. Polley, Jr.
SSgt. Kevin C. Roberts
Spec Cory J. Bertrand

After the Roll Call of Honor, Shelby County AgriLife Extension Agent Feleshia Thompson with the 4-H Sewing Sensations Project spoke, "I am very, very honored to be here on today as a representative of the Shelby County 4-H Heart to Hands Quilts of Valor project. Our project is comprised of adult volunteers and 4-H youth that meet to sew quilts in honor of our Shelby County Veterans. The Quilts of Valor project is in partnership with the VFW Post 8904 and made possible through sponsorships from local businesses, organizations, and individuals." Three quilts were then presented which were sponsored by the Scrappy Happy Quilting Club of Center, Texas.

The first quilt was presented to Everett Cougler. He joined the U.S. Army on March 18, 1968 and served his country for two years, seven months and five days obtaining the rank of Specialist 4. He served over two years in Vietnam as a combat medic providing emergency medical treatment.

The next veteran to be wrapped with a Quilt of Valor was Mary Roberts. She joined the U.S. Army on October 4, 2000 and served her country for 20 years and twenty-seven days with an additional four months of inactive service. Roberts retired at the rank of Sergeant First Class E7. During her service she was a dental specialist and her overseas duties included the Republic of Korea, Alaska, Kuwait, and Iraq.

The final veteran honored with a quilt was Derrick Roberts. He joined the U.S. Army on October 22, 1996. He served his country for over 20 years retiring in the grade of Sergeant First Class E7. During his service he was military police stationed overseas in the Republic of Korea and Alaska.

After each quilt was presented, Thompson said, "On behalf of the Shelby County 4-H Heart to Hands Project... We say welcome home and thank you for allowing us to recognize you."

A heart warming and precious solo performance of 'God Bless America' was then sang by Dylan Roberts for the first verse with the audience joining in on the second.

To end the Memorial Day program, a moment of silence was observed before everyone adjourned to the flag pole outside for the Playing of Taps and the raising of the flags.