Madison County Journal

Veterans Day ceremony set for Friday

By John Lee

RIDGELAND — Retired Col. John McCollum said the Veterans Day observance here is a great way to honor veterans and their families for putting their lives on the line for the freedom the country enjoys today. 

“I think this event recognizes veterans and their service, and their families as well,” McCollum said. “I have utmost respect for those family members as well as the veterans. Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to all of them.” 

McCollum said he is expecting a large crowd this year and added the event usually draws around 100 to 150 people. 

“We hope people come to support our veterans, and enjoy the program, and talk to the veterans and hear their stories,” he said. 

McCollum served in the National Guard and Army Reserve for 32 years and retired in 2012 as a colonel. He has been on multiple tours and deployed to countries such as Egypt, Kuwait and Central America. He now serves as the chairman of the Veteran’s Memory Park Committee. 

“We did a lot of missions during my service, such as Desert Shield and Enduring Freedom,” McCollum said. “I would do it again if I was called to do so. When I was young I couldn’t afford college so I joined the National Guard to help go to school. It was a way to help my education, but when I got into it, I developed an interest in it and decided to commit to it. The people I worked with, and their dedication, was very inspiring to me.”

Ridgeland’s Veterans Day celebration is on Friday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at the Veteran’s Memory Park outside Ridgeland City Hall. 

The Hon. U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is attending the celebration, along with Mayor Gene McGee,  alderman, the Veteran’s Memory Park in Ridgeland Committee, the Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce, and other city officials. The celebration is open to the public. 

The celebration will include keynote remarks by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. Ridgeland High School’s ROTC and acclaimed choir will be there. Selections from the choir include “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “In Flander’s Fields.” 

McCollum said he hopes young people attend the event and take in the importance of Veterans Day. 

“I think young people should see Veterans Day as a day to honor veterans and what they’ve done for our country,” he said. "The takeaway for them is commitment, up to giving your life for something, and it’s something they should value. I hope they consider joining the armed forces.”

“I’m happy to have Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith come out here and honor the veterans,” he said. “We’ve made a commitment to have these programs and we’re always going to honor them and their service.”

The Veteran’s Memory Park is located outside Ridgeland City Hall at 100 W. School Street.