Remembering one who gave all
The sound of Taps wafted through the trees and across the field on the Collins family farm on Monday afternoon, as a crowd of 50-plus gathered to honor fallen veterans and to unveil a new memorial monument just outside the town of Scooba.
The Memorial, created and funded by the husband and wife team of Harry and Patricia Collins, was dedicated in honor of Private First Class James Edward Cherry of Scooba, who died in November of 1968 during the Vietnam War.
While the memorial service, which Harry Collins says he hopes will grow over time, was for all veterans, he openly admitted that most of the focus was on the Vietnam veteran.
“This memorial is for all veterans, but those who went to fight in Vietnam were treated poorly when they came home,” he said. “It was shameful.”
He said those memories stirred him to do something to honor those who had given of themselves for their country.
“I saw how the Vietnam vets were treated and that is something that has been on my mind,” he said. “I have always catered to them.”
He said it probably took eight months to purchase and prepare all of the especially selected items that compose the memorial. One thing in particular is still missing that the and Patricia hope to have in place my next year. Patricia said, to honor the women who served. Both he and she noted they were just hard to find. “I’m going to have one especially made,” said Harry Collins, who himself served in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Four Vietnam veterans — Willie Gillespie, Jodie Wren, Charles Richardson, and Martin Jimison — were all in attendance and honored during the ceremony, which lasted approximately 30 minutes.
One of the most touching moments occurred when roll was taken and when Collins got to the name James Edward Cherry, he repeated the name three times, then Taps was played.
Collins said he knew something had to be done to honor the veterans from the Scooba area. “I didn’t see anything in Scooba to honor any vets at all,” he said. “It’s just something that needed to be done.”