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Monument tribute’ to veterans’ courage

Re-enactors representing the major wars hold their rifles after firing them in honor of the country’s veterans during the Veterans Day ceremony Thursday.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[11/12/04]The Rose Garden monument rededicated during Vicksburg’s Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday is not a memorial to war but a tribute to the physical and moral courage of veterans, said Vicksburg native Brig. Gen. Robert Crear.

During the traditional celebration at the Municipal Rose Garden, area veterans organizations honored all veterans, and the Vicksburg Rotary Club rededicated the World War I monument it had renovated as a club project.

“What we rededicate today is not a memorial to war, rather it’s a tribute to the physical and moral courage that makes heroes out of farm and city boys, and that inspires Amer-icans in every generation to lay down their lives for people they will never meet, for ideals that make life itself worth living,” Crear said.

Crear, the commander of the Mississippi Valley Division and president-designee of the Mississippi River Commission, said Americans across the nation and throughout the world paused Thursday to honor those who have underwritten freedom with their duty, honor and selfless service for the 228 years the United States has existed.

“To all our veterans, we have a simple yet heartfelt message thank you all of you, for your service,” he told an audience of several hundred that lined both sides of the Rose Garden.

Restoration of the World War I monument was the Rotary Club’s local civic project in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Rotary, which will be celebrated next year, said Bryan Brabston, the immediate past president.

“This monument was originally dedicated on Nov. 11, 1923, to commemorate the sacrifice of 45 Vicksburg and Warren County servicemen who died in World War I,” he said.

Three of them are specifically remembered on the monument, Brabston said. The sailor is William T. Gifford, the first Warren countian to die in the war. The infantryman is William Allein, and his brother, Henry Allein, is recalled by the World War I biplane on the monument’s south face.

“It is a great honor to return this monument to the city of Vicksburg and Warren County,” Brabston said later in the program.

Vicksburg Mayor Laurence Leyens formally accepted the monument.

Veterans organizations also honored Charles L. “Buster” Ford for his many years of participation in the annual ceremony. Ford, who died in November 2003, was the veteran who each year recited “In Flanders Fields,” a poem honoring those who died in World War I. This year, the poem was recited by George Habeeb.

In thanking the groups for the honor to his father and to his family, Charles Ford’s son William A. Ford said two quotes from different sources summed up his father’s life.

“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith,” is from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, and “A man is judged not by how much he loves but how much he is loved by others,” which came from “The Wizard of Oz.”