They have been called the greatest generation and few would disagree. The men and women in uniform during the Great War and the civilians who worked and sacrificed in the war effort made America stronger for their generation and every generation that followed.
Most of that generation has passed on, yet some who are now in their late 80s and early 90s came to Jenkins on August 25 to be honored and to remember their buddies who were killed in that great conflict or who passed on before they were given the recognition they so richly deserve. Most attendees were bent by the ravages of time and were being aided by their family members yet all towered above the crowd and stood erect like young recruits as the guest speakers poured out the accolades that were long past due.
Most agree that a monument should have been erected a half century earlier, but it wasn’t. Were it not for the relentless efforts of Jenkins resident Mary Ann Mullins, a monument might never have been erected for the World War II veterans.
The tenacious Mary Ann, known as “Granny” by her friends, worked for seven years to get the support of the public and the local and state officials to provide the funding. Numerous setbacks and delays just made her more determined. It became common knowledge that, “You just don’t mess with that little gray-haired lady, she won’t quit”.
During that period she collected more than 600 names of World War II veterans from Jenkins, Burdine and Dunham to become immortalized in stone for future generations to appreciate. Main Street was closed to traffic and hundreds stood in the sweltering, midday August sun for this historic event.
Mary Ann Mullins would like to express her appreciation to those people who helped make this a special event:
• Mayor G.C. Kincer and his staff, who provided the venue, chairs and sound equipment.
• County Judge/Executive Jim Ward and Circuit Judge Sam Wright, who provided the beautiful benches donated in honor of the veterans.
• State Representative Leslie Combs, who was responsible for getting funding for the monument and has stood by me from the beginning to the end.
• District 5 Magistrate Wayne Fleming. I cannot thank you enough for all your support and for standing by me when I needed advice. I will forever be indebted to you.
• World War II veteran Charles ‘Slick’ Gallion for the opening prayer and for leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
• Lisa Adkins for singing the beautiful National Anthem.
• World War II veterans Willard and Frank Blankenship, Ray Shortt and Harold Bryant who raised our American flag.
• American Legion Post 66 Commander Ronald Adams for the beautiful POWMIA ceremony.
• Iraqi War veteran Paul Whitaker for singing the breathtaking God Bless the USA.
• Retired Army Sergeant Willie Greer for the laying of the wreath to honor the deceased veterans.
• The Pound, VA., VFW Honor Guard for playing Taps and firing the 21-gun salute to honor all deceased veterans.
• Brother Benny McCall for the prayer.
• And last but not least, I would like to extend a big thank you to the veterans for the beautiful bouquet of roses you gave to me.