Hundreds gather for Memorial Day Parade

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

Several hundred veterans and flag-waving spectators gathered indowntown Brookhaven Saturday for the Memorial Day Parade.

Veterans rode along the parade route in 22 World War II-vintagemilitary vehicles while crowds of well-wishers paid tribute to thesacrifices they made.

The vehicles were provided by Deep South Military Vehicles andCoastwatchers, volunteer groups who preserve military vehicles anddonate their time to participate in events honoring veterans.

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The parade’s lead vehicle was an empty jeep in honor of thisyear’s two special honorees, said Paul Jackson, an event organizer.The jeep was a tribute to local heroes Danny Entrican, who islisted as missing in action from the Vietnam War, and the lateRobert Peters, who was captured by the Germans during World War IIand kept as a prisoner of war.

“They are the only two local MIAs or POWs I know of,” Jacksonsaid.

The parade paused briefly at the steps of the courthouse for aspecial Memorial Day service. The service began when World War IIveterans Joe Gibson and Jesse Hensarling laid a wreath at the footof the War Memorial. Members of the Mississippi State Guard, avolunteer organization of veterans who serve at armories whenNational Guard units are called into service, ran flags to halfmast in honor of those who died while serving their country. Theservice ended with the haunting notes of “Taps” drifting down thestreets of Brookhaven.

In deference to the heat, few speeches were made after theparade and those that were given were kept brief.

Brookhaven native Col. Ken Powell, who returned late last yearfrom service in Iraq, saluted veterans both past and present foradhering to their ideals and answering the call of their country.In making the ultimate sacrifice, those men and women ensuredAmerica could continue to be free, Powell said.

Powell also reminded the audience that America is a nation thatis still at war and to remember to honor those soldiers overseastoday fighting to bring democracy and a better life to thousands offormerly oppressed Iraqis.

“It is a war we will win,” he said.

Chad Smith, an event organizer, thanked everyone whoparticipated in the parade or helped see it through tocompletion.

“I’m a very fortunate individual because I get to spend so muchtime with veterans,” Smith said. “It’s quite an honor.”

He also thanked the 54 volunteers who staff the MilitaryMemorial Museum in the old train depot. It is through theirefforts, he said, that the museum can remain open.

Tricia Walker, who’s father was a veteran, said she enjoyed theday’s festivities.

“It was a great tribute to our men who served,” she said.