Throwback Thursday: Huntingdon Unveils War Memorial In 2001

This week’s throwback Thursday looks back at the July 4, 2001 edition of the Carroll County News-Leader when Huntingdon held a ceremony to dedicate the war memorial monument.

New War Memorial Monument Dedicated In Impressive Ceremony

By Shirley Nanney

Mayor Dale Kelley (left) speaks to the crowd, while (from left) Billy Cary, Donald Parish, Lt. Col. Dennis Arinello, and Bailey Wrinkle wait attentively.

Never was the pride of the red, white, and blue more prevalent than Saturday night in Thomas Park on East Main Street.

The park overflowed with the crowd of people who came to witness the dedication of the Memorial Monument to fallen Carroll County soldiers.

“In Huntingdon, we wanted to show our great respect and gratitude for the courageous Carroll County soldiers whose names have generally been forgotten,” said Mayor Dale Kelley in his speech. “They went to war to fight for what we all hold dear– life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The ceremony got underway at 7 p.m. with patriotic selections played by the Huntingdon High School Band.

The town’s ISTEA train, engineered by Randy Crossett, made trip after trip to the parking lot at the middle school to haul passengers to the park.

Veterans were pinned with a red carnation and seated in a special section of the park.

Carroll County veterans honored at the dedication ceremony are gathered.

“The monument is beautiful and is such a fitting way to honor our war dead,” said local citizen Gene Burden as Shalane Malone and Erin McCree pinned a red carnation on his shirt.

The Presentation of the Colors was carried out by the United States Marine Corps Color Guard India Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment of Nashville.

Veterans in the audience over 80 were recognized. They included Lonnie Murphy, James McLemore, Max Greer, Loyd Ross, and Allen Williams.

Kelley called the Thomas Park a most appropriate site for the monument since it was the site of the train depot in Huntingdon.

Construction of the railroad started in various parts of Carroll County prior to the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.

The memorial is made of black and gray granite and is engraved with the names of 328 Carroll County soldiers who gave their life for their country.

But, it was not until after the close of the Civil War, about 1868, that rail lines running through Huntingdon were completed. Passenger train service ended in Huntingdon on Jan. 2, 1953.

During those years of passenger service, Carroll County soldiers boarded the train for destinations known and unknown in service to America.

“Some returned to this point of departure,” said Kelley. “But many did not.”

They mayor compared the monument placed in the park to Joshua in the Old Testament when he placed the stones as instructed by God. They were placed there to mark the place where the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, as God delivered them from the wilderness wanderings.

“As the stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever,” said Kelley, “so is our monument, and the setting of these stones memorialized the courageous sacrifices by the soldiers from Carroll County.”

During the ceremony, veterans from the various branches stood when the high school band played the appropriate service song.

The War Memorial monument of black and gray granite was bought through and engraved by Griffin and Powell Monument Works.

The War Memorial was dedicated to Carroll County soldiers on June 20, 2001. Bailey Wrinkle, veteran of the U.S. Navy (left) and Lt. Col. Dennis Arinello, U.S. Marine Corps, Atlantic, place a memorial wreath near the monument.

The monument was purchased through contributions made by the Trust Committee of Carroll Bank & Trust on behalf of Doc and Bela Wright, due to the family’s strong military background and their long-standing ties to Carroll County.

“They would be pleased to know that the names of the brave individuals engraved on these monuments are being permanently preserved,” said Billy Cary, who is president of Carroll County & Trust and is a trustee for the Wright Charitable Trust.

Doc was the son of Neil and Verda Allison Wright of Huntingdon. Their home is now known as the Dr. Chip and Rita Christian home on West Paris Street.

Bela was the daughter of Walt and Musa Mebane of Buena Vista.

Verda, Doc’s mother, moved to Huntingdon from Birmingham when she married Neil. Her sister, Mae Allison, was a world known actress in silent movies.

Doc’s father was affiliated with the Bank of Huntingdon for 60 years. Doc’s grandfather, William Moore Wright, was a nationally known medical doctor and surgeon. He served in the Civil War and was attending to General Sidney Johnson when he died at Shiloh.

Dr. Wright was a commissioned assistant surgeon assigned to duties at hospitals in Nashville and Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia.

After the war, he did additional studies with the Missouri Medical College in St. Louis. Their daughter, Olive, provided the name for the Olive Hotel in Huntingdon.

Doc’s great-grandfather was also a medical doctor, Ebenezer Wright, and his great-great-grandfather was Colonel Moses H. Wright.

Huntingdon attorney and city judge, Donald Parish, presented war summaries of the 328 Carroll County soldiers whose names are engraved on the monument.

The placement of the memorial wreath was carried out by Korean Veteran Bailey Wrinkle, who served with the U.S. Navy, and Lt. Col. Dennis Arinello, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps of the Atlantic fleet stationed at Norfolk, Virginia.

The 21-gun salute was conducted by Company B of the 230th Engineer Battalion, 194th Engineer Brigade of the Tennessee Army National Guard of Huntingdon. Henry Simpson played Taps.

As dusk fell, The AWOL (All Walks Of Life) men’s ensemble composed of Tim Tucker, Kevin Wheatley, Billy Webb, Bob Newman, Larry Thomason, Tom Stines, and Lee Carter, sang “God Bless the U.S.A.”

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