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Memorial Day ceremony draws large crowd

By Staff
SALUTE n Residents salute during the playing of "Taps" at Memorial Day services Monday on the grounds of the Lauderdale County Courthouse. Front, from the left, are Katherine Daniels and Marvin Weir. Back, from the left, are Francis Knight, James Slayton and Jimmy Slay. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
May 28, 2002
Russell Camp attended the Memorial Day ceremony Monday at the Lauderdale County Courthouse, sitting under a magnolia tree and wearing his U.S. Army uniform jacket and cap.
Camp will turn 90 next month, but he seems younger just like the uniform he stores in a cedar chest at his home near Vimville.
There are a few signs of age here and there on his uniform, such as tiny moth holes in his cap. But everything the uniform stands for remains clear in his memory.
Ken Storms, Meridian's chief administrative officer and a former commander of Training Wing 1 at Naval Air Station Meridian, said the crowd may have been the largest for a Memorial Day service.
The Meridian Children's Chorus performed patriotic songs, people offered prayers and they placed wreaths at the memorial wall outside the courthouse honoring local citizens who died in battle.
Each name of the fallen war dead engraved on the memorial was read aloud as relatives of those soldiers placed flowers by the wall in remembrance.
Capt. Jeffrey Dickman, commanding officer of NAS Meridian, told the crowd it is important to take the time to remember those who gave their lives in the service of their country.
Raymond E. Moore, 79, who sat close to his friend and fellow World War II veteran, Camp, went to the wall in remembrance of his brother, George, a paratrooper killed in the Normandy invasion.
Moore was in the U.S. Navy, serving on aircraft carriers in the Pacific. His thoughts Monday were also with his 126 shipmates who were killed when two kamikaze pilots hit his ship, the USS Ticonderoga.
Moore said he liked the Memorial Day ceremony, but he wishes more people would attend.
Being there, people heard the names of the war dead and saw them written in stone. They saw the flag flying at half staff. They heard the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, "Taps" and a 21-gun salute from the Navy Honor Guard.
They saw Camp's uniform and the faded, laminated card Moore pulled from his wallet that certifies he was a member of the Occupation Force in Tokyo Bay during the surrender of the Japanese to the Allied Powers. He has carried it with him since he left the service in December 1945.

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