Oxford Community Unites to Honor Fallen Heroes on Memorial Day

Published 4:15 pm Monday, May 29, 2023

By Jimmy Durham

Oxford residents came together this year in a heartfelt and solemn Memorial Day ceremony, sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 3978, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 48, American Legion Post 55, and the Marine Corps League. This collaborative effort aimed to pay tribute to the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. Held at the serene Oxford Veterans Memorial Park, the ceremony served as a poignant reminder of the price of freedom and the importance of remembering and honoring our fallen heroes.

In attendance were numerous veterans and their families, local politicians, and many other Oxford residents who gathered to pay their respects. The ceremony commenced with a stirring rendition of the national anthem, performed by Ken Ash. The powerful performance evoked a sense of patriotism and unity among the attendees. “This was our first time attending this ceremony, and it was truly moving,” expressed Brenda, a new resident from Orlando, Florida, who brought her daughter, Cheyenne, to experience the Memorial Day commemoration.

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Greg Lovelady, commander of the VFW All American Post 3978, introduced distinguished speakers, including Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill and President Board of Supervisors Mike Roberts. Mayor Tannehill expressed her gratitude: “Thank you all for being here to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.” Mike Roberts echoed her sentiment and joined others in urging everyone to pause and reflect on those who fell in service to a higher calling.

Senior Master Sergeant Dennis Bullard, United States Air Force (Ret), had the honor of introducing the guest speaker, Brigadier General Bill Waller, Jr., of the United States Army (Ret). General Waller highlighted the importance of remembering the fallen and acknowledging the lasting impact of their sacrifice on families and communities. He shared the news that later this summer, the dining hall in the State Veterans Home, located on Veterans’ Drive in Oxford, would be named in dedication to Command Sgt. Maj. Buford Babb Jr., who played a pivotal role in the National Guard deployment during unrest over James Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi. General Waller and others credit him with “turning the tide” during the subsequent riots, stating, “He gave the command, ‘Fix bayonets.’ Those guardsmen in line assumed a riot control formation and held strong. And the riots melted back into the darkness and trees.”

In his closing remarks, General Waller posed an important question: “We must ask ourselves; how do we best honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country?” He referred to a quote attributed to John Adams, who would later become the 2nd President of the United States. When asked in 1777 if he believed they would be victorious against Great Britain, Adams replied, “Yes, if we repent and fear God.”

The ceremony continued with a series of heartfelt tributes, including the solemn ringing of the honor bell and the laying of a wreath. The melancholic notes of Taps, played by bugler Jason Pardoe of the Marine Corps League Detachment 1431, echoed through the air as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who fought and died for their country.

The ceremony concluded with the Marine Corps League proudly raising the flag to full staff and a final benediction offered by Bro. James Petermann. Attendees were then invited to share a meal, including hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, sodas, tea, and more.