By Ashley Conroy - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - It was all smiles for the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board after they received a $110,000 dollar check from the Friends of Mississippi Veterans at the Jackson State Veterans Nursing Home.
Friends of Mississippi Veterans say the check was all from private donations, from citizens, businesses, and corporations.
"If there's any state that loves the military it's Mississippi," said former veteran and Friends of Mississippi Veterans board member, Billy Mounger.
The donation is to build a 40-foot high Carillon or bell tower at the new Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery that is opening on Memorial Day of 2011.
"That's the center piece of this," said Friends of Mississippi President, Jack Winstead. "And we were glad as a group of private citizens to step up and raise the money, because had it not been for private funds, that would not be there."
Winstead says the tower will transmit sound up to 3 miles and play patriot music like "Taps" during military funerals.
Former Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Amy Tuck has played a critical role as a member of Friends of Mississippi Veterans in raising funds for this tower.
"This demonstrates the caring hearts and the support that Mississippians and corporations and businesses have for our veterans and for their families," Tuck said.
Construction of the cemetery started last year, but Winstead says already it's been nicknamed the "Arlington of the South."
"We have 85 acres in the cemetery," Winstead said. "And right now in phase, one we're developing 15 acres which will include 5,000 grave sites."
Meantime, with Mississippi's high rate of servicemen and women, Tuck says it will be an honor to remember each Mississippian who has served with a memorial.
"Our veterans have given so much to our country. That's the reason we have our freedom today," Tuck said. "It's important we remember that, and we stand up for them."
The cemetery itself was paid for by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and cost around $6.9 million dollars.
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