Pine Belt groups to hold observances

By HASKEL BURNS,

To honor military veterans who have served in every branch of the United States Armed Forces, several organizations in Forrest and Lamar counties will hold a variety of Veterans Day celebrations next week.

The following is a roundup of those events in the area, which will include cookouts, parades, awards ceremonies and more.

HATTIESBURG

The Hattiesburg Veterans Committee will hold its 2019 Veterans Day events beginning at 11 a.m. Nov. 10, with a 24-hour U.S. Air Force ROTC Vigil at Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Hattiesburg. During the vigil, the troop will guard the park’s four pillars, which feature the names of 173 Hattiesburg-area service members who have died in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Global War on Terror.

At 7 p.m. that evening, the ROTC will read the names from the pillar during a tolling of the bell.

The Veterans Day Parade will kick off at 10 a.m. Nov. 11.  It will begin at Hardy Street Baptist Church, wind down Hardy Street and make a circle around Veterans Memorial Park before ending behind Sacred Heart High School. Camp Shelby Post Commander Col. Bobby Ginn will serve as the grand marshal.

The parade* begins at 10 a.m. at Hardy Street Baptist Church - rol

The Veterans Day Program will begin at 11 a.m. at the park and will feature a speaker, an awards ceremony, music and the posting of the American flag. Hattiesburg resident Bill Ray, who served in the United States Marine Corps from 1955-1959, will be honored as 2019 Veteran of the Year.

Ray was honorably discharged as a lance corporal after serving with the 2nd Marine Air Wing located at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that supported forward-deployed units in Vietnam. His other major assignments included Beirut, Lebanon and the Caribbean.

“The parade is bigger than ever, the program is extremely good, and the weather looks pretty good,” said Ted Tibbett, who serves as chair of the Hattiesburg Veterans Committee. “So I think everything considered, it’s going to be a great program, and we hope a lot of people come and celebrate the service of millions of men and women who have served honorably in our military.

“It’s a festive day – it’s a day of celebration, not a day of mourning.”

PETAL

The Petal Area Chamber of Commerce will host a Veterans Day Salute Cookout from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Petal Center for Seniors & Veterans, 425 East Central Avenue in Petal.

During the event, which is sponsored by Trustmark Bank, members of the 2-305 FA Battalion from Camp Shelby will grill free hamburgers and hot dogs for veterans and their families.

“It’s going to be a very relaxed, easy-going kind of a cookout,” said Valerie Wilson, executive director of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce. “Everything will be supplied for them; all they have to do is show up.

“My main thing is that I just want us to have a lot of veterans come and enjoy a meal. We had a cookout last year and it was really enjoyable, so this will be our second year to do it.”

In addition, Petal High School will hold a Veterans Recognition Ceremony on Nov. 8. A breakfast will be held from 8:45-9:30 a.m. in the school’s cafeteria, followed by a recognition from 9:30-10:30 a.m. in the gymnasium.

The youngest, oldest, and longest-serving veterans will be recognized, and attendees will be treated to performances from members of Petal High’s showchoir, band, digital media, and speech and debate teams.

SUMRALL

A Veterans Day Breakfast will be held from 7-9 a.m. Nov. 11 at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center, 169 Center Avenue in Sumrall.

Veterans will be provided with breakfast from Topher’s Grill, and Rep. Kent McCarty will give a short speech. In addition, ladies’ a capella group Traces of Blue will give a musical performance.

“Students are going to get to meet some of the veterans, and enjoy visiting and talking with them,” said Whitney Rollins, who is co-organizing the event with Malisha Siders. “We want to show them how grateful we are for what they’ve done for us, and what they continue to do.

“Last year, we had probably about 100 folks or so show up, so it was a fairly good turnout with us being a small town. I felt like we reached a decent amount of folks, and we’d like to see the program grow year after year.”