Submitted by: Raymond Settle

Category: Film / Documentary

A Six-Year-Old Dream Comes True

It all began in 2015 when some members of Ripley, Miss., American Legion Post 81 started trying to come up with a way to honor our living WWII veterans. The idea of a Veterans Memorial Park came up and a committee was organized to present a proposal to the City of Ripley. Little did we know at that time that Mayor Chris Marsalis shared our idea and already had a place in mind for the memorial. The city was in the process of constructing a Sports Plex with multiple athletic fields, gymnasium, pavilion, walking tracks, playground and other facilities. The highest and most visible area within the Sports Plex was the perfect place for the memorial. The Board of Aldermen approved designating the area for a veterans memorial in 2016. One of the first contacts for assistance was to Bobby Martin, president of the Peoples Bank of Ripley, who is since deceased. The first priority was determining what we wanted as a memorial, and Martin made it possible for us to acquire an architectural firm, McCarty Architects, to design the memorial. McCarty promised a unique feature in our park that would distinguish it from all other parks - a 20' tall aluminum saluting soldier facing the American flag. After a series of meetings a final plan was agreed upon.

Then we began to tackle the job of raising the estimated $750,000 cost of implementing the plan. We solicited donations, held fundraisers and sold bricks inscribed with the names of veterans. The fundraising was proceeding slowly until our contacts with local legislators Rep. Jody Steverson, Sen. Rita Potts-Parks and Rep. Nick Bain produced an announcement in October 2019 that a $250,000 grant had been secured from the state. They came through with another $500,000 grant in October 2020. The grants enabled us to advertise and let a contract to Worsham Brothers Contractors on Jan. 5, 2021, with work to begin on the 25th of that month to construct the veterans park. The Tippah County Veterans Memorial Park was formerly dedicated as part of our annual Veterans Day observance, with six of our living WWII veterans present, on Nov. 11, 2021, and the final inspection was conducted Dec. 21, 2021.

After six long years of effort by a dedicated group of Legionnaires, along with the City of Ripley and support from the community, we now have a fitting memorial to all veterans of all wars open to the public.

About the author:

The author is a 23-year member of Ripley Post 81 and was a member of the Tippah County Veterans Memorial Park Committee.