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Memorial Day service in Oxford honors those who didn’t come home

Robyn Tannehill knows she is one of the lucky ones.

Her husband, LTC Rhea Tannehill with the Mississippi Army National Guard, came home in 2009 after his year-long deployment in Afghanistan.

“Tonight I will go to sleep with my service member, and tomorrow I’ll get to wake up with him, too,” she said at the annual Memorial Day Ceremony held Monday at the National Guard Armory. “I get to experience the comfort of knowing he’s coming in the back door around 6 or 6:30 p.m. every day. .… But there are military spouses across our nation who aren’t so lucky.”

In her speech as guest speaker, the Oxford mayor-elect referenced the poem Eleanor Roosevelt carried in her wallet — the author asking if they were “worth dying for?”

“I pray that each of us will answer ‘yes,’ but not just through our words, but also through our actions,” she said. “May we honor the legacy of our service men and women in our daily walk. We live their legacy by making each day count; by making a difference where and when we can; by serving and not waiting to be served.”

Hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, with help from the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans, the program began with an invocation by Clear Creek Baptist Pastor Charles Lipe, who prayed for the families of the ones who didn’t come home and asked for blessings for all veterans.

The Oxford Police Department Honor Guard presented the colors and Mitzi Below sang God Bless America and the national anthem.

Wil St. Amand read off the names of 95 veterans who have died in the last 12 months in Lafayette County, compiled by the Skipwith Historical and Genealogical Society.

VFW Commander Bill Arnold talked about the American Flag — what the red, white and blue symbolize, and the legacy of those who fought and died protecting.

“We came here to dedicate a roll of honor naming the men and women of this area who went forth as the living strength of our flag,” he said. “They are the honored dead whose resting places are found in many foreign lands and waters around the globe.

“Fighting under the flag of this nation is the privileged duty of every able-bodied American and we will always honor those who go forth in defense of our nation. They are the true guardians of freedom, justice and equality.”