Community to honor veterans at Memorial Day events

May 21—Meridian and Lauderdale County residents will have several opportunities to recognize the sacrifices of military service members as several Memorial Day events are planned throughout the community.

The East Mississippi Veterans Foundation will hold its Memorial Day ceremony beginning 10 a.m. Friday at the East Mississippi Veteran's Memorial Park, 5955 M St. The guest speaker for the event will be Lt. Col. Eric "Jason" McElhenny, who serves as executive officer of The Mississippi Air National Guard 186th Air Refueling Wing at Key Field, according to a news release announcing the event.

West Lauderdale High School freshman and musician Grayson Culpepper will play the National Anthem and provide special music, and an honor guard from Naval Air Station Meridian will present the colors. A flyover is planned if weather allows.

The park will be decorated for the event with 243 American flags representing the 243 Lauderdale County natives who were killed serving in the U.S. armed forces.

For questions about the event contact Jeff Summerlin, president of the East Mississippi Veterans Foundation, at 601-480-0293 or email emvmfoundation@gmail.com.

Following the foundation's event, the Memorial Day Planning Committee is set to hold its annual Memorial Day Tribute beginning at 10 a.m. Monday in front of the the former Lauderdale County Courthouse at 500 Constitution Ave. In the event of bad weather, the tribute will be held at Meridian City Hall in the third floor auditorium.

All Meridian and Lauderdale County residents are invited to attend the Memorial Day Tribute regardless of whether or not they have served in the military.

What is Memorial Day

Memorial Day originated from Decoration Day, which was a day to place flowers, flags and other decorations on the graves of soldiers killed during the Civil War. The tradition was started at the local level and spread until it became a national day of remembrance.

While started to remember Civil War soldiers, Memorial Day was expanded after World War I to become a day to remember those killed in all American wars. Congress passed a law establishing Memorial Day as a national holiday in 1971 and set it to be observed annually on the last Monday in May.

Contact Thomas Howard at thoward@themeridianstar.com