It was talked about a lot on Wednesday as locals celebrated Veteran’s Day at a number of events held throughout downtown.
As a missy rain filled the air, a shortened Corinth – Alcorn County Veteran’s Day Parade rolled off just after 10 a.m. Before the hour was up, the parade had ended and around 100 people gathered – some wearing face coverings and distancing themselves – on the steps of the Alcorn County Courthouse to hear veterans recount stories of sacrifice.
“I am a very proud Vietnam veteran,” said Col. Chester Harrison, the keynote speaker during the special program and a retired officer with the 82nd Airborne of the U.S. Army. “I was trained to kill and survive and I was very good at my job ... and I did absolutely nothing I’m ashamed of.”
The 1968 Corinth High School graduate’s voice grew louder, “My only regret is I was not honored with the ultimate sacrifice for my name to be beside the names of those 58,479 soldiers on that wall in Washington, D.C.”
Known as “Snoop” during his time in the service, Harrison is now a 70-year-old preacher and the God-fearing man often recalls some 51 years ago when he served in the jungles of Vietnam.
“It was September of ’69 and we got orders to hitch a ride – to catch a chopper. During the day we looked for bad guys and when we found them, we’d kill them. At night, we would setup an ambush on a trail. When bad guys traveled and came into our ambush, we’d kill them ...” said Harrison. “Every night for the last 50 years I get back to the jungles of Vietnam. I think a lot about those days when I should have died, but for some reason God always decided to spare my life.
“And so I made a promise a long time ago to honor Jesus Christ and to make sure no one forgets the sacrifice that veterans made,” he added.
Another Alcorn County native, and member of the 82nd Airborne Division, paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Staff Sgt. William “Seth” Ricketts died February 27, 2010 in a battle with insurgents in Afghanistan.
Wednesday’s parade honored Ricketts and his family.
His parents were meant to be grand marshals, but COVID-19 had other plans.
According to parade organizer Bobby McDaniel, Seth’s father, Bill, died earlier in the week from coronavirus complications and the late solider’s mother, Sandi, is also battling the illness.
Levi Houston, who served along side the young Ricketts overseas, stood in place of the family to honor their son. Houston said he joined the army with Ricketts the day after the events of September 11, 2001.
“For those who knew Seth like I did, you knew that Seth – just like his father – had heart,” said Houston. “Unfortunately in 2010, he paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Like Seth all of those who have gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom are the real reason why we are able to be here and honor (veterans) today.”
Air Force veteran William “Bill” Wages was another local veteran shown special appreciation on the day.
Wages received a flag flown over the United States capitol on the request of congressman Trent Kelly and given to the solider on benefit of the Alcorn County Republican Women group.
“I don’t deserve this,” Wages said, as he wiped away a tear. “I just thought a man should serve his county ... and I would go back today if I was able.”
“Snoop” agreed with Wages.
“I wish I could serve again, too” said Harrison. “But I am thankful for every moment that I have had and every moment that hopefully I will have to put on this uniform and say thank you to the men and women who stand between us and the bad guys.”