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Ceremony to honor the fallen

While Memorial Day has come to mark the beginning of summer, with barbecues and permission to wear white, it started as a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that Americans can continue to enjoy their freedoms.

In Oxford, the annual Memorial Day Recognition Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at the National Guard Armory, located off the Sisk Avenue exit of Highway 7 North. Hosted by the Disabled American Veterans as well as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, this year’s ceremony will honor those local veterans who have died this year as well as all those who have died while serving and by natural causes.

Unlike Veterans Day services, the Memorial Day Ceremony is generally a more somber affair.

“They’re part of this country’s history, the freedoms of this country,” said Ray Wilburn, commander of the DAV. “World War I, II, Vietnam, Korea and Iraq — all the wars throughout history, this is why our country is still free like it is, these people gave their lives to ensure that.”

Recognition of departed area veterans will be done by Will St. Amand, followed by the Dedication of Wreath, which will be later placed at the Lafayette County Courthouse. St. Amand will read off the names of veterans who have died within the last 12 months, compiled by the Lafayette County Historical and Genealogical Society.

This year’s guest speaker will be Brig. Gen. John M. Rhodes, who serves as the Commander of 66th Troop Command and also as the assistant adjutant general of the Army, Mississippi National Guard. He is responsible for commanding 2,600 soldiers statewide. Rhodes is responsible for the administration, training, equipping and overall readiness of units to respond to federal and state contingencies, both natural and man-made. He also commands a Joint Task Force under the direction of the adjutant general in response to natural and manmade contingencies in support of homeland security and defense operations.

Perry Arrington will perform the national anthem and Randy Hope of the Abbeville Baptist Church will do the invocation.

The ceremony will close with the playing of taps and a moment of silence.