2 programs, parade, flags to honor vets

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 9, 2001

[11/09/01]Flags are up at the National Cemetery and a major effort has been undertaken to bring Vicksburg people together for Veterans Day this year.

“I know we had prayer and special services after Sept. 11,” said Frances Koury who organized Saturday events at Vicksburg Auditorium. “But I feel there needed to be more, especially this year.”

Songs and readings by a variety of local artists and multimedia displays will be part of the fast-moving program in the Monroe Street facility, expected to start about noon or as soon as the 11 a.m. parade through downtown ends.

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Traditional Vicksburg events are the placing of American flags on the approximately 18,000 graves at the Vicksburg National Military Park and a ceremony at the Municipal Rose Garden at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in keeping with the armistice that ended World War I.

While events are usually sparsely attended, Koury said she hopes for a large turnout, especially for the auditorium program.

Also, fees at the Vicksburg National Military Park and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas are being waived during Veterans Day weekend. Sherman Avenue Elementary School fourth-graders were to put out American flags on graves at the park this morning and American flag lapel pins will be distributed to veterans who visit the park this weekend.

Saturday’s parade, the first in 23 years, will be on Washington Street from Belmont to Grove. Representatives of the Mississippi National Guard, the U.S. Army Reserves, the U.S. Coast Guard and ROTC units and bands from local high schools will participate in the parade.

The auditorium program will include representatives of the U.S. Army’s 412th Engineer Command, Vicksburg Police Department, Vicksburg Fire Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Department, area students, musicians and singers. Former first lady Pat Fordice will do a reading.

The program will include a reading of the Gettysburg Address and a visual presentation prepared by the city’s Channel 23 department.

The speaker for Sunday’s ceremony will be Col. Benny Terrell, assistant adjutant general for personnel of the 412th Engineer Command. Local veterans groups and members of the Vicksburg High School Junior ROTC will also participate. Arnette Nash will recite a poem honoring those who have died in wars, and local attorney and veteran Lucius B. Dabney Jr. will be the master of ceremonies.

Participants in the ceremony are invited to a free lunch following the program at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2572, 1918 Washington St.

Separately, the Isle of Capri Casino will provide a free meal to all retired veterans, police or firefighters Sunday at Calypso’s Buffet. Veterans will have to present a valid service identification card at the desk at the casino entrance.

The Isle of Capri will also be giving out free American flag lapel pins to anyone with an Island Gold Player’s Card beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday while supplies last.

Because the actual holiday falls on Sunday, government and many other offices will be closed on Monday.