Memorial Day for many means a three-day weekend and a cookout with family and friends, but it is also a time to remember those who died in service to their country.
The city of Hattiesburg and the Veterans Committee will hold a program on Memorial Day to pay tribute to the fallen service members from the Hattiesburg area.
“We want you to burn a burger. We want you to go swimming,” said Ted Tibbett, chair of the Hattiesburg Veterans Committee. “We want you to have a good time, but also put part of your day aside to thank the people who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy this wonderful day.”
The 39th annual program will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at Veterans Memorial Park, 399 West Pine St.
“There are two events each year that I really ask the community support for and that’s the Veterans Day ceremony in November and the Memorial Day ceremony in which we commemorate the 173 people that we lost in our community,” Mayor Toby Barker said.
The names of the 173 men who were killed in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom will be read aloud followed by a bell toll.
“When someone goes to war and loses their life, they deserve to be named, to be remembered, to have their story told,” Barker said. “We want our residents to hear those stories and hear those names because that’s our history. That’s our legacy. That’s the reason we get to live in a city like Hattiesburg today.”
Their names also are engraved on the four pillars at Veterans Memorial Park.
The men listed on the pillars were killed in action in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Instead of a guest speaker, attendees will hear from Dr. Arthur Fokakis, who will tell guests about Allen B. Carter, who was the first man from the Hattiesburg area killed in World War I.
Fokakis also will talk about Carter’s relative, Paxton Carter, who became the first from Hattiesburg killed in World War II. He served on the USS Arizona, which was bombed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.
Retired Lt. Col. Fred Varnado will talk about Jesse L. Brown, the Navy’s first Black aviator. Brown died in December 1950 after his plane was shot down over North Korea.
Tibbett said future Memorial Day events will feature other service members killed in the line of duty.