Local Veterans Celebrated in Willow Springs
Wed, 11/18/2020 - 12:44pm admin
A Veteran’s Day program took place at the Star Theatre on November 11. A moving overture produced by Robby Rakestraw featured patriotic images, video, and music. Once the program began at 7:00 p.m., Larry Spence took the stage as emcee. He introduced Sergeant Major Grover Pierce who offered the opening prayer.
Next on the stage were sisters Ellie and Allie Nielsen who played patriotic songs on piano and viola before they were joined by Joel Hinds, who led a sing-a-long of America the Beautiful and The Star-Spangled Banner.
Local historian Lou Wehmer was on hand to give a presentation about the Howell County residents who served their country in World War I. 860 men from the county served in the military during the war; only 34 died from disease or in combat.
Wehmer said the federal draft was not necessary in Howell County. At the start of the war, there was already one company of men formed here, and men volunteered to raise three more companies to fight.
One of the Willow Springs veterans Wehmer described was Oliver O. Grant. His son, Al Grant, was present at the program and spoke about his father’s service and achievements. He proudly displayed his father’s Croix de Guerre medal.
The keynote speaker for the evening was retired Navy Commander Jack Hines.
“We enjoy our many liberties because they were fought for,” he offered. He discussed the history of democracy in the world, and the enemies to freedom the U.S. military has fought before telling stirring stories about his own time in combat as well as sharing some of those of local veterans he has met. Finally, Commander Hines invited all the veterans present to stand and be recognized.
The program closed with a performance of Taps by Curtis Goode.
by Amanda Mendez, publisher