Veterans honored at Memory Park
RIDGELAND — Dozens came as the city held its first Veterans Day program last week in years this time at the Veterans Memory Park in front of the new City Hall building.
Mayor Gene McGee said he was happy to see the city hold an official acknowledgment for Veterans Day on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 11. He said the city had held such ceremonies when he first took office.
“We just did not have the place for it,” McGee said of the reason they did not continue having Veterans Day ceremonies. “I think it was a very nice event, and we plan on doing this every year on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.”
Last week’s ceremony included remarks from McGee, former public works director Mike McCollum, Congressman Michael Guest and a prayer from the Rev. Bess Perrier of First United Methodist of Ridgeland.
Guest thanked all the nation’s veterans for their service, noting the sacrifices they made.
“Freedom is not in the bloodstream,” Guest said. “It must be fought for. The price at times has been high, and we thank all of our veterans for their service and sacrifice.”
The Ridgeland Air Force JROTC Color Guard and the Ridgeland High School Choir also participated in the ceremony. Alderman-at-Large D.I. Smith, a veteran himself, rang the bell at the Veterans Memory Park.
The Veterans Memory Park was initially pitched by the late Dr. Tom Logue. Plans were approved by the city in April of 2017. He presented his idea to the city board of aldermen.
“Most cities have a statue or monument that you drive by, and that’s fine, but we wanted something you come to and be a part of,” Logue said at the time. “The bell will work, and we want people to be able to go and ring that bell and say a fallen veteran’s name for that moment that veteran will live again.”
Smith said he thought the event was an “unbelievable success” and that he looked forward to many more in the city’s future.
“It was a great program,” Smith said. “I am excited to live in a city that respects and appreciates the sacrifice so many veterans have made for the freedoms some people take for granted every day.”
Smith said he was moved by the crowd that remained afterward to take pictures and read the names on the bricks bought by friends, families and loved ones that honor veterans at the park.
Smith said “a great way to honor a veteran” is to “call city hall” and ask about sponsoring a brick in the Veterans Memory Park as they are still available.