Memorial Day service held at Garden Point Cemetery
Memorial Day services were held at Garden Point Cemetery in Etowah at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 25, starting with the raising of the flag by Rivercrest ROTC and Major John Northcutt.
"We are here to honor the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice," Etowah Mayor Bo McCollum said.
He expressed his appreciation to everyone who had a part in making the ceremony successful, those who keep the Garden Point Cemetery ground and records, and all those who attended.
Brother Danny Helms, pastor of Etowah Baptist Church, offered the invocation followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by veteran David Hall.
Vivian Jane McMechen, 10 year old student at Brookland Middle School, sang the National Anthem. She is the granddaughter of Sally McMechen, Garden Point Cemetery Committee member, and Paula Poag, Manila High School teacher.
Shirley Heard Mathey talked about a World War I veteran and early settler of the area, Brownie Sisco. She told how he had passed down his story of survival of the war and how he and his bride, Daisy, came to raise their family in Etowah. She called his story "Gas Masks" by listening to her friend talk about her daddy. It was the story of three comrades who survived with gas masks from the seeping mustard gas used by the enemy.
She went on to introduce Clara Lee Sisco Hill, who talked about her brother, Joe Sisco, children of Brownie Sisco.
Ms. Hill said Joe, a World War II hero, who was forced to bale out of his plane trying to get back across the English Channel. He was found hanging in a tree and was hidden and cared for by peasants for three months in spite of knowing the trouble they could get into.
"Our family calls them angels," she said.
After the war Joe returned to the U.S. Air Force and on Aug. 20, 1947, during a fiery crash aboard a B29, Joe and 16 other comrades died.
Joe received the Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, Oak Leaf Cluster, Medal of Valor, and three bronze ribbons.
His family placed a concrete bench and story board in his memory.
Granddaughters of Betty Wilmoth Webb, sisters WO1 Jessica McCormick, Mississippi National Guard, U.S. Army, Apache helicopter trainee, designated first woman Apache Trainee of Mississippi National Guard, also a U.S. Marine Veteran, Afghanistan and Iraq, and HN Jamie McCormick, U.S. Navy, Medical Corp, veteran, Afghanistan, had the honors of laying of the wreath in remembrance.
Joyce Helms sang America the Beautiful.
Mayor McCollum presented a plaque to Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook, a veteran and native of Etowah.
Rep. Dave Wallace, District 54 representative and veteran, spoke to the crowd. Wallace, a career veteran, was awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses, Air Medal for Valor and three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, inducted into the Arkansas State Hall of Heroes in 2010 and the Arkansas Military Veteran's Hall of Fame in 2014.
"America is a great country," Rep. Wallace said. "Freedom isn't free. Someone has to pay the price. Some, like Sgt. Sisco, paid the ultimate price. Today there are wives, widows, mothers, dads, siblings thinking of loved ones who did not come home. They will always remember."
"There are evil men in the world who hate us because of what we represent, a Christian country and our message of freedom and all men are created equal, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Evil men want to take away our freedom.
"The cost of freedom has been paid for all of us," he said. "We who are left behind remember the sacrifices. We should continue to remember and honor our fallen heroes."
He talked about courage.
"Courage does not mean you are not afraid," he said. It means going anyway. In combat you are afraid. Courage is fighting through it and getting the job done. In the wee hours of the night, the sights and sounds come back -- the cries of the wounded and the last breath of a comrade. Let's always honor the men and women who fought for our freedom."
A 21 gun salute by the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department and Etowah Sheriff's Office was followed by Rivercrest ROTC playing Taps.
Mayor McCollum also thanked Ricky Griggs for placing flags at the grave sites of veterans.