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As we mark another Veterans Day, I find it all the more important to write this week’s article paying some semblance of a tribute to the veterans of McKenzie. The men and women of McKenzie hold …
As we mark another Veterans Day, I find it all the more important to write this week’s article paying some semblance of a tribute to the veterans of McKenzie. The men and women of McKenzie hold true to what it means to be have served our great country.
Inscribed says on Korean War Memorial’s Pool of Remembrance states the true meaning of service, “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 the guns of war became silent. The silence marked an armistice between the warring factions in the “war to end all wars.” President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day. It was a day to stand in remembrance and celebration for the end of World War I.
People throughout American celebrate this day, now known as Veterans Day, to honor all veterans, present and past. The city of McKenzie remembers its veterans in a quaint old-fashioned uniqueness. Veterans Memorial Park is designed to keep the veterans of Carroll County in the hearts and minds of its citizenry.
Each Veterans Day, local veterans and members of the community gather on town square on the 11th hour. They come together to watch a tradition that dates back to 1927 with then firing of a cannon. It is not the large Howitzer that stands in Veterans Memorial but a much smaller version.
The smaller cannon fires a 10-gauge black powder blank round. The artillery barrage may not be lethal, but it is loud enough to be heard throughout the historical district of downtown McKenzie.
For many years, Mr. James Choate, a veteran of WWII, has participated in the firing of the miniature cannon. Other veterans have been involved over the years, but none more memorable than, Mr. Bailey Wrinkle. Mr. Wrinkle, a local veteran and active community member, died in June of 2015.
Like clockwork, the cannon fires on the 11th minute of the 11th hour. The crowd watches as a feeling of admiration and pride fills the air with each shot. As the blasts reverberated through the air, Veterans Memorial Park stands as the perfect setting.
Visitors have the opportunity to stroll through the picturesque park as McKenzie pays homage towards its veterans. The first stop for most is the Howitzer Cannon. In 1924, the German made World War I-era cannon was donated by the Department of Defense to the little town of McKenzie.
To the right of the old Howitzer stands a sign that commemorates the American Civil War. The wording tells the story of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s first raid through West Tennessee.
Standing at the corner of the park is a large double-sided monument memorializing the local men who gave their lives during World War I, War World II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. The monument was sponsored by the McKenzie Rotary Club and paid for by the contributions from citizens through the years. It was dedicated July 7, 1944.
There are the names of the crew that was lost on bomber crash near McKenzie in August of 1943: Second Lt. George L. Moles of Kansas City, Missouri; Second Lt. Thorniel O. Haugen of Madison, Wisconsin; Second Lt. George T. DeCesare of Brooklyn; Second Lt. Ivan W. Oaks of St. Louis; Col. Walter G. Sancomb of Schenectady, New York; Sgt. Frank Rye of Detroit; Sgt. James D. Kenney of Cumberland, Maryland; and Sgt. Roy E. Snyder of Wellsville, Ohio. On the foggy Monday morning of August 9, the B-17 (also known as a Flying Fortress) crashed after suffering a structural failure that rendered it uncontrollable. Part of the tail of the plane was found over a mile away near Lake Isabel.
According to the Friday, August 13, 1943 edition of The McKenzie Banner, the sound could be heard and the fire seen for many miles. Residents attested that the plane circled the field as though the pilot was attempting a forced landing, but at some point the effort failed and the plane nosedived.
Stones outline the walkway to the memorial. Each stone has the name, rank and branch of service of many McKenzians who served in the military. Three of those stones represent members of my family.
As the walk comes to a close, another memorial comes into focus. Three markers stand in honor of those who served in the Middle East. At the center is a stone honoring a classmate of mine, Dusty Carroll. Dusty was a member of the Army National Guard 230th Engineer Battalion Company A. He was killed near Baghdad by an IED in 2005.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote that, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” The quote is very true of the meaning behind Veterans Day.
Wars are fought not because of hatred towards the opposition, but out of a love for one’s community and country. In a time where many forget how they received their freedoms, McKenzie remembers and respects those who served.
Jason R. Martin
B.S. • M.A.Ed • MLS
Councilman, Ward II
Executive Chairman, McKenzie 150th Celebration
E: firstname.lastname@example.org P: 731.352.3323
Jason Martin is a life-long resident of McKenzie. He graduated from McKenzie High School in 2000; earned a Bachelor of Science in History from Bethel College in 2004; a Masters in Education from Bethel University in 2009 and a Masters in History and Humanities from Fort Hays State University in 2011.