The last of 260 laser-engraved bricks were placed this past week at Pershing Square, honoring veterans, living and deceased, from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Mideast Wars era who served in the military, reserves, National Guard, Coast Guard or Merchant Marine in the USA or overseas preserving our freedom. Pershing Square is located in front of the Emile Ladnier WWI Monument facing the Mary C Art Center at 1600 Government Street, Ocean Springs, Miss., and was a project of American Legion Post 42 and Sons of The American Legion in support of the WWI 100-year centennial.
The important thing to remember about Pershing Square is you don’t have to be a Congressional Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Purple Heart (PH), Bronze Star Medal (BSM), or French Legion of Honor recipient, a survivor of the Bataan Death March in WWII or to have served overseas or be from Ocean Springs, although all of these Honored Veterans are represented in Pershing Square.
Scores of the bricks honor Ocean Springs residents and family members who served, including the 15 original charter members of World War I Emile Ladnier American Legion Post 42, dated Dec. 19, 1919, to include: H. Powell, Joseph C. Chaillot, R. Englaith, Oscar T. Davis, William L, Chaillot, Deo F. Bertuccini, Thomas Murphy, Van Cleave Reid, S. Chester Davis, Floyd Howell, James T. Ryan, Louis S. Tardy, L. Westbrook, Narcisse Dick and W.M. Abraham. Among the last bricks to be placed in Pershing Square were in memory of USMC MSGT John E. Hayes, killed in action 8 July 2009, and GYSGT Jon W. Gifford, killed in action 29 July 2012, both in Afghanistan.
The original dedication of Pershing Square was attended by the Kessler Honor Guard, mayor and alderman of Ocean Springs, and American Legion members and the public, and was covered by all the local newspaper and TV stations. The American Legion website featured it nationally as an example to all posts on how to plan and complete a project. The Sons of the American Legion and Seabees helped in the original construction by contractor Tim Hermes of Globoscapes Landscaping LLC. Pershing Square is in the running to be named among the top 100 projects in America celebrating the centennial of World War I; winners will be announced this November. The State of Mississippi authorized display of articles of the project to be placed in the East and West tourist stops along I-10, and continues to draw locals and tourists to the Mary C and the downtown area.
In photo, Steven Eckert, an officer in the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 42 of Ocean Springs, examines the newly laid engraved bricks. The Sons want to increase their membership; any male descendant, adopted son or stepson of members of The American Legion, and such male descendants of veterans who died in service during past wars, are eligible for membership in this organization. The Sons are affiliated with American Legion Post 42, preserving our freedom.