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Co-Lin marks veterans memorial upgrade

In a ceremony held Friday morning, Copiah-Lincoln Community College spotlighted additions and renovations to the veterans memorial on its Wesson campus.

     Grant money and donations allowed the college to spruce up the Veterans Memorial Garden, which was originally dedicated in 1986.

     “Co-Lin has a long history of honoring veterans,” said Co-Lin President Ronnie Nettles, discussing the history of the memorial site.

     The school received a $5,000 grant from the Home Depot Foundation several months ago to pay for refurbishment of the memorial garden. Additional landscaping was placed around the site and brick access sidewalks were added leading up to the memorial.

     And it’s not installed yet, but plans call for additional lighting to be placed around the monuments at the site.

     The grant came through the Home Depot Foundation’s Celebration of Service grants program.

     Other individual and group donors aided the renovation, including Monticello’s VFW Post 4889, which paid for iron benches to be placed at the memorial garden.

     The memorial is dedicated to Co-Lin veterans who lost their lives in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and was originally installed and dedicated on Memorial Day 1986.

     A new marker placed at the center of the monument reads, “In continual remembrance with enduring gratitude to those Co-Linians who lost their lives in the military service of our nation. As we celebrate their lives, let us honor them by guarding peace with prayer for the day when memorials are no more.”

     Charles Langley, commander of American Legion Post 79, and Sharon Langley, the post’s Ladies Auxiliary President, capped off the ceremony by laying a wreath at the monument.

     Lt. Col. Kenneth Elliott, chaplain with the Mississippi Air National Guard, was the event’s guest speaker.

     Elliott is the wing chaplain for the 172nd Airlift Wing of the Mississippi Air National Guard. He’s been a chaplain 28 years and is also the library director and a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary.

     Elliott addressed the need for Veterans Day and the temptation to, during the rest of the year, forget what it means.

     “We often take our freedoms for granted,” Elliott said.

     However, Elliott said those freedoms have been bought far too expensively to be taken lightly.

     “People do go out and defend this country for love of country and often they pay the ultimate price,” Elliott said. “Most of us don’t realize what a young person, when they sign up, what they sign up to do.”

     Expounding on this point, Elliott described the “inhumanity of combat” and said more than 1 million Americans have been killed in war during the nation’s history.

     “That’s a lot of blood,” he said. “Our soldiers have been there for America.”