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Veterans Group Donates 100-Grand For New Bell tower

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 14 Jan 2011 08:11am | comments

Construction is already underway on the Mississippi Veterans Memorial cemetery, which will be Mississippi's only state run veterans cemetery when it opens this spring. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports on a veterans group that raised 100-thousand dollars to add improvements to the site.

The 87-acre Veteran’s Cemetery is located off I-20 in Newton County in east Mississippi. The project is funded by the federal government.

The first section is expected to be open at the end of May. Veteran's Board Chairperson Jo Leslie says the cemetery is important because it is the only Mississippi state veteran’s cemetery.

'"It will be such an honor for our veterans that we should respect and appreciation for what they have done," Leslie said.

Leslie calls the site the "Arlington of the South". The cemetery will also be the site of a memorial to both wars in the Persian Gulf. The board's executive director Adrian Grice says that memorial will be the first thing visitors see.

"Currently, we have 94 Mississippians who have been killed in the Persian Gulf War and that goes back to Desert Storm. So this is also an opportunity for Mississippi to honor its fallen heroes. Those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have been killed while on duty in the Persian Gulf War," Grice said.

Friends of Mississippi Veterans raised 110-thousand dollars to build a forty-foot bell tower in the cemetery. The group's president Jack Winstead considers the bell tower a center piece of the new cemetery.

"That's where when they have a funeral they play taps. Each funeral there will have a 21 gun salute, taps, and if the family wants other music played, the musical instruments will be there. It is my understanding that you can hear the music from this tower for approximately three miles," Winstead said.

While the federal government paid for the cemetery, it declined to fund a number of additions like the bell tower. Winstead plans to continue fund raising to add more extras, such as a prominent highway sign.

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