Memorial Day ceremony honors veterans
The Herman Davis American Legion Post 197 presented a special POW/MIA Memorial Day Ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Herman Davis Monument in Manila. The event was held as a Memorial Day tribute to Prisoners of War, Missing in Action, their families and all veterans.
Cub Scout Pack 32 presented the Colors, Grady Willmuth, American Legion Post 197 Commander, welcomed veterans and guests, and Chaplain Tommy Vandivor opened the ceremony with prayer.
Commander Willmuth explained what the table and the setting represents. It is a place of dignity and honor for the POWs and MIAs.
"We call the prisoners of war and missing in action comrades," Willmuth said. "We pay tribute to them. They made the supreme sacrifice."
Donna Jackson introduced the guest speaker, Terry Selby of Jonesboro.
Jackson said he has extensive military knowledge and served in the U.S. Army Special Forces with the 82nd Airborne.
Selby is a native of Leachville, the son of Jane Selby of Leachville and the late Pete Selby. He is a graduate of Leachville High School and Arkansas State University.
Selby gave a brief history of why Memorial Day is celebrated. He asked the veterans to stand and recognized them.
He held up a picture of a military cemetery overseas.
"This is the cost of war," he said. "There are thousands and thousands of dead Americans buried in at least 25 cemeteries overseas. They sacrificed for us."
He went on to say the U.S. Military is at war. Americans are forgetting.
"I saw the movie "The Great Escape" as a child and it stayed with me," Selby said. "I served in the Army but I am not a hero. I've known heroes and I was trained by a hero who spent five years as a POW before he escaped. "
He encouraged everyone to go to the internet and the library and find out about the sacrifices made by these people.
"Prisoners of War have a daily life existence of fear, filth, hunger, forsaken, forgotten and death," he said. "Sad but true, most missing in action are dead."
He said recently the remains of a soldier lost in 1944 was found and returned, and another casualty from the Korean War was found and returned.
He also gave a special tribute to the American prisoners who were not released at the end of the wars. He encouraged people to read the history for themselves and create their own opinions.
Manila Chief of Police Jackie Hill and Commander Willmuth placed a wreath at the foot of the Herman Davis Monument.
Commander Willmuth issued a call to area veterans.
"Post 197 is on its way up," he said. "We want to bring it back to where it was. We want to serve our veterans and their family members."
A lunch was served at the Manila Depot grounds and the depot museum was opened for tours. The Manila Depot Museum has a military room featuring pictures, uniforms, letters, and mementoes from area men and women who have served in the military.
Commander Willmuth thanked everyone for helping make the day successful. He said he would like to make the ceremony an annual event.