SIKESTON - A tragic sneak attack on our nation. A surge of patriotism moving across the country. War bonds issued from the Treasury Department. History has a tendency to repeat itself.
During World War II the Honor Roll board listing the names of "Men and Women of Sikeston in Armed Forces" was erected downtown at American Legion Park.
Now, nearly 60 years later, the Sikeston Depot and the Kings Highway Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution are collaborating to honor and express the communities' pride and appreciation for men and women mobilized for today's war on terrorism by establishing a similar display at the Depot.
"Our intent is to do this board just like the World War II board," said Judy Bowman, Sikeston Depot board member. "We feel it is so important to honor these men and women that the recognition board will be long-standing - as President Bush stated, 'As long as it takes.'"
The Kings Highway Chapter of the DAR, with members in both Scott and Mississippi counties, in line with their policy to support veterans, "went into partnership with the Depot to show appreciation and honor to those in the service being called - including the National Guard," said Bowman.
Residents and sons and daughters of residents of Mississippi, Scott and New Madrid counties are encouraged to bring a picture to place at the geographic center for the three counties - the Depot museum in Sikeston. "The board is up and we are collecting pictures at this time," said Bowman.
This time around, policemen and National Guard members working on the "home front" will be included as well. "Some of these men and women are in danger, but all are rearranging their lives for our safety and protection," said Bowman. "The least we can do is recognize them and say, 'Thank you.'"
Among the first to be included is Randall Witt, son of Orvill and Carolyn Witt of Sikeston, who is currently stationed in Bahrain with the U.S. Navy's security department.
Kenneth and Ruth Ann Wasson Sr. of Sikeston were also proud to include their son, Lt. (junior grade) Darrell Wasson, who is serving as navigator for a four-man Lockheed SB-3 Viking jet aircraft operating off the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Persian Gulf. "I can't get a whole lot out of him. They won't tell you a whole lot," said the elder Wasson.
Wasson said he does know the SB-3 Vikings, which are primarily submarine hunters, have been tasked during the present conflict with air-to-air refueling missions for strike aircraft.
Bowman said those interested in including someone on the Honor Roll board should submit a 4-by-6 or 3-by-5 inch photograph of the subject in uniform along with their name, the name of the parent resident, and where they are stationed if available.
A drop-off point in Mississippi County is also planned for those unable to bring their contribution to the display to Sikeston.
Bowman said the board will be expanded as needed to accommodate all those who wish to be included.
Freda Conley of Sikeston said the original Honor Roll board was put up by the local newspapers - the Sikeston Herald and the Standard Democrat's predecessor. "It was the Sikeston Standard at that time," she recalled.
"My husband was on there, Lewis H. Conley, and my brother, Walter Lankford," said Conley. "It wasn't a complete list, because my brother-in-law William Hahs wasn't on there."
Conley said it was a good thing for the community at the time. "I think it was very nice. People went up there and looked at it for names they knew. I think everybody was very pleased with it."