Memorial Day 2012: Fallen honored during ceremony

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In the military, he learned not to volunteer for things, but that didn’t get him very far.

     “They would come in, say, ‘We need volunteers.’ You, you and you,” recalled James Nettles, a smile slipping across his face as he mimics an officer pointing out the “volunteers.”

     That was many years ago, when Nettles served in the infantry during World War II.

     But Nettles still finds himself getting volunteered for things. And when duty calls, Nettles is there.

     Active in the local chapters of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Nettles was chosen for the second year in a row as a member of the color guard during the Brookhaven Memorial Day ceremony.

     “They volunteered me,” Nettles said.

     Veterans and their families, local citizens and patriots gathered in front of the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex to mark Monday as more than the end to a long weekend.

     Brigadier General William L. Glasgow offered a few thoughts to the crowd.

     “The importance of Memorial Day can never be understated,” Glasgow said. “We owe a debt of gratitude we can never pay to those that have defended liberty.”

     Glasgow was introduced by local veteran Ken Powell as a man who has been “deployed four times in defense of our nation.”

     Glasgow is a native of Starkville, a graduate of Mississippi State University and a graduate of the U.S. Army War College. He has lived in Lincoln County 16 years.

     “His career has been marked by much success,” Powell said.

     On Memorial Day, the United States should remember both those who served and lived to be called veterans and those who died as soldiers, Glasgow said.

     Glasgow also warned the crowd that even as they remember the sacrifices required by America’s past conflicts, that willingness to sacrifice is still required.

     “American vigilance is still needed in preventing mass murders and genocide,” Glasgow said.

     Glasgow described Memorial Day as not just for remembrance, but also for reflection, reflection on the purpose of the sacrifice veterans and soldiers have made.

     Glasgow urged those at the Monday ceremony to make a personal commitment to do two things: visit the gravesite of local veterans to honor their service and to personally thank a veteran.

     “In this way we will take the spirit of Memorial Day beyond a day on the calendar,” Glasgow said.

     Local American Legion Commander Keith Reeves hopes the community’s annual ceremony helps foster this spirit.

     “The main thing for me is that we never forget what they’ve done,” Reeves said.

     Following Glasgow’s remarks, local veterans read the names of each member of the armed services from Lincoln County killed in the line of duty. Each name, 99 total, is inscribed on the Lincoln County Veterans Memorial located outside the government complex.

     For Nettles, that monument and the reading of its names have personal meaning. On the monument four relatives of Nettles’ can be found, including a first cousin, James B. Woodall. All were killed in WW II.

     Woodall was killed in a battle at Aitape, New Guinea. Nettles was at the same battle, but never knew Woodall was also there until the family received notice of his death.

     On this day, this day of memory, the memories behind those four names sit heavy with Nettles.

     “A lot of good people got killed,” Nettles said. “A lot of good people are still getting killed.”