Local veterans honored

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By Alice Du Pont


More than 200 people attended the Veterans Day Observance and Luncheon at 11 a.m. Monday on the Courthouse Square in Quincy. Veterans of several wars were recognized for their service to the nation.


A special tribute was given to Chester Lee Davis Sr. of Mt. Pleasant. Davis’ son, Chester Jr., told the audience his father was one of approximately 20,000 Marines trained at Montford Point between 1942 and 1949. 

“He went into the Marines and spent two years in the South Pacific fighting for our country in World War II,” Davis said.


In October 2011, the U.S. House and Senate unanimously voted to give the Congressional Gold Medal to Montford Point Marines. President Barack Obama signed the measure in November 2011.


The significance of Davis’ sacrifice and that of approximately 20,000 black Marines who were trained at Montford Point in North Carolina is that it was a segregated training unit. Blacks were not admitted to the Marine Corp until a directive was issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942.


“Today we are talking about my father. Here with me are my siblings, my aunts (one who is 90 years old and lives in Orlando), my uncles but who are all from Mt. Pleasant,” Davis said, who showed the audience the medal his father was given posthumously.


He said his father is not buried at Arlington National Cemetery, but in Oak Grove on U.S. Highway 90 West.

School Superintendent Reginald James was the keynote speaker for the observance. He recalled his father telling the family stories about his military service.


“He instilled in us the importance of service. I never served, but he was a proud World War II veteran. From the time of the Buffalo Soldiers up until today, it is important how we honor our veterans. You represent the 134 million veterans,” he told those veterans in the audience.


He said all veterans should be recognized every day for their service.


“We all know that freedom isn’t free; someone paid the price,” James said.


James also described a recent visit to Hawaii, where he had the opportunity to visit Pearl Harbor and learned firsthand on the morning of Dec. 7. The experience, he said, was very moving and said that anyone who had the opportunity to visit Hawaii should not miss the monument.


Frank Williams, a veteran of the Vietnam War where he served in the 82nd Air Borne Unit based in Fort Bragg, N.C. said he hasn’t missed the Veterans Day Observance since it started three years ago.


“It is very important to me. I feel good that our government and our citizens appreciate the service so many people have made great sacrifices to get us to this point,” he said.


Members of the VFW Post 217 and 12054 along with members of the women’s auxiliary of both laid a wreath on the Veterans Monument on the Courthouse Square during the ceremony.


“The flag of the United States reflects our comrades. The red stripes reflect their courage and willingness to sacrifice, even their lives if necessary. The red of our country’s flag has been made redder by their heroism.

Therefore, we place these red flowers to symbolize their courage and gallantry,” said Vice Commander of the VFW Post 12054 Willie Ellison.


“The white symbolizes the purity of purpose that our comrades have in serving under this beautiful flag. The white becomes more stainlessly pure by the motives that impel them. We place these white flowers as a reminder of their unselfish devotion to duty,” Ellison continued. 


“The blue of our flag symbolizes truth and fidelity and represents the desire for peace and happiness throughout the world. Therefore, we place these blue flowers to symbolize the great love that our comrades have for our flag and our country. Our flag symbolizes undying love for our country, this evergreen tribute, whose color bespeaks live everlasting. As the flag of the United States symbolizes victory over oppression for the living, this wreath symbolizes victory. We place this token of affection in honor of our comrades” said Ellison.

Clarence Morgan, 92, and Willie Scott, 88, two of Gadsden County’s oldest World War II veterans, attended the Veterans’ Day Observance. 


“It’s a beautiful day and a beautiful thing,” Scott said.


“As a veteran, I really appreciate this,” said Major Shawn Wood of the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office and a former member of the 18th Airborne Corp.