Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Memorial Dedication Brings Healing and Thanks

On Tuesday afternoon under cloudy skies, Louisville and Winston County marked the one year anniversary of the tornado that did so much damage  to the area with a memorial dedication and a religious service. The events were held alongside Hwy 397 at Memorial Park  Cemetery which was near the center of much of the devastation.

Through fundraising efforts and City of Louisville funds, a memorial courtyard now welcomes visitors to the cemetery. The garden area consists of 10 trees representing each victim of the storm, raised beds,7 flagpoles for the US and state flag and for the branches of military service, granite benches and a monument bearing the names of the residents who lost their lives.

Senator Ward with the 1st Lady

In attendance at the memorial service was Governor Phil Bryant and the First Lady Deborah Bryant. Mrs. Bryant holds a special place in the hearts of Winston County residents as she was actually in Louisville at the time of the tornado and stayed several days providing relief assistance. State Senator Giles Ward took time to thank the First Lady prior to the introduction of the Governor.

Governor Bryant recalled the events of April 28, 2014 and his
Governor Bryant
concerns for his wife and friends in the area as information came in concerning the path of the storm. He spoke of his wife's efforts after the storm and noted that she did what every Mississippian would do given the opportunity. "We are Mississippi Strong, You are Winston Strong....It is our responsibility to make sure that this community is a bright shining example for all those that suffer tragedy- for all those that look for hope and courage.... at this place and time the whole world will know that there was a group of people who suffered through a great disaster, a tragedy and you had two choices. You could have stayed down...or you could rise. You said - we choose to rise."

Mayor Will Hill described the memorial courtyard and
acknowledged those who assisted with the project. Hill noted that the location of the courtyard was directly in the tornado's path as it ripped through Louisville. "The entrance (Courtyard) is a symbol of recovery and rebirth of a community of many bonds created over this past year."

 Following the dedication speakers, family members of those who were lost during the storm were invited to witness the unveiling of the monument and the crowd gathered to see the veterans' tribute as the flags were raised to conclude the event.

The Sunshine Boys
Following the dedication and veteran's tribute, a special gathering and worship service "Stand Strong and Courageous" was held. Area pastors including Elder James Young joined to give thanks and praise.

Special music was provided by "The Sunshine Boys". The four brothers- Josiah (14), Andre (11), Willie (10) and Ethan (7) are Louisville natives and the sons of Andre and Kateshia Esters. The Sunshine Boys won the children's competition at the 2015 Exclesisa Enterprise Showcase Extravaganza in 2015.