Honored during Ridgeland Fair Grand Parade

Besides a marching color guard, Willard Hinzman American Legion Post 511 also entered this float in the Ridgeland Fair Grand Parade Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. From left, Mary Peterson, Theo Benson, Ken Burmeister and Chuck Keller. Photo by Bob Zientara

By Betty Glaser

Members of Willard Hinzman American Legion Post 511, Ridgeland, will never forget Sept 21, 2018 when the center granite stone toppled when strong winds struck the monument at the Ridgeland Veterans Memorial Park.

Legion members received calls from community members voicing their concern. This tragic event affected both the veterans and the community.

There was speculation from the community if the stone would be replaced. The veterans, without missing a beat, said absolutely!

The stone was replaced and the post refocused its energy on the Wall of Honor.

Almost seven months later to the day, the center stone toppled again by the severe storm of July 19, 2019.

North of Ridgeland, the devastation was severe and affected many farms and homes. But in Ridgeland, the storm focused on the Veterans Memorial Park.

Once again, the veterans rallied and, as a unit, a decision was made to replace the center stone immediately.

The redesigned and reinforced stone will be delivered and placed in early September, just in time for the dedication ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.

The Walls of Honor will also be installed during the first part of September. The walls proudly display the names of 94 Ridgeland area veterans, including one from the Civil War.

There was grieving by both the veterans and the community. The outpouring of support was overwhelming, but it represented the support our veterans have from the community.

This memorial park is a reflection of the perseverance, strength, and courage of our veterans. It’s as if all the military service mottos were spoken, Aim High, Fly- Fight Win, Forged by the Sea, Army Strong, The Few, The Proud, Born Ready, and Always Ready, Always There. All the Veterans rallied and overcame the last 7 months of battle with Mother Nature.

The community is invited to the memorial dedication. There will be a short program, followed by coffee and dessert at the park. In case of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the Ridgeland Community Center.

Feel free to bring a lawn chair. Vehicles can be parked in the ballfield, located across from the Veterans Memorial Park.