Local veterans gather for Veteran’s Day and celebrate years of service

Published 5:06 pm Thursday, November 11, 2021

Oxford honored local veterans for years of dedication and service to the nation for Veterans Day with Retired Army General Bill Waller in attendance as guest speaker. State Senator Nicole Boyd, Mayor Robyn Tannehill and Representative Clay Deweese were also in attendance.

“I feel great about this day,” said Commander of the DAV Ray Wilburn. “This is for the living veterans and I feel great that we still have veterans living from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Bosnia and all those places. It’s fortunate that we still have this many living.”

The ceremony took place at American Legion Post 55, or the Veterans Building, instead of the Oxford Conference Center and was organized by Post Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Greg Lovelady, Commander of the Disabled American Veterans Ray Wilburn and Commander of the American Legion Dennis Bullard.

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“It’s just a wonderful event,” said Lovelady. “If you look around, you’ll see a lot of disabled veterans and you got to feel. It’s got to go to your heart.”

Lovelady encourage younger veterans to get involved in the organizations and to bridge the gap between generations.

“We built it up,” he said. “The people before us built it up and there’s a long stretch between Vietnam and Persian Gulf where there’s no VFW. Our hardest thing is to get young guys to come.”

Guests and their loved ones gathered to celebrate their fellow members and enjoy an traditional American lunch of hotdogs and hamburgers.

The celebration officially began with opening remarks from Wilburn, Lovelady and Tannehill who has been attending the celebration for 30 years along with her husband Lieutenant Colonel Rhea Tannehill, who is a veteran. Rhea served as a member of the Mississippi National Guard since 1992 and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008.

Tannehill said it’s important for the community to come out and show appreciation to their veterans and to give back and she’s always excited to be a part of the festivities.

“I just want to say thank you to all the folks who planned this every year and make it a great event,” she said. “So many people spend a lot of time planning it and making sure it’s a special thank you for our veterans. We’re so proud of all those who served and to the spouses who have also served alongside, I say thank you.”

Waller soon took the stage to recall the actions of the military in U.S. and world history and the importance of Veterans Day. Veterans selflessly chose to leave everyday life for the good and defense of the country, he said.

“I have a deep love for this country, the constitution, the laws and for the people who have served in the armed forces,” said Waller. “There’s something about the community of us— the people and the citizens— joining together in effort larger than themselves and that’s a lot of sense what the military is. We leave our individual preferences to join the greater cause.”

The Veterans of Foreign Wars meets every second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m., the American Legion meets every second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. and the Disabled American Veterans meet every third Saturday of each month at 12 p.m.

Veteran Affairs and all three organizations assist veterans with claims and are encouraged to check requirements and to seek benefits. For more information, visit www.msva.ms.gov/serviceofficers.