Remains of soldiers given honors during Biloxi Memorial Day - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Remains of soldiers given honors during Biloxi Memorial Day

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi National Cemetery hosted one of the largest Memorial Day observances in South Mississippi on Monday.

A crowd of several hundred gathered to remember and pay tribute to those who died while serving their country.

This year's ceremony included a unique and special remembrance. The remains of four, unidentified soliders who served in the Mexican-American War more than 160 years ago were given full military honors as part of the annual Memorial Day ceremony.

Their remains were uncovered on Greenwood Island in Pascagoula. Long ago buried and forgotten, the four received the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation on Monday.

"We will be honoring four unknown U.S. servicemen from the Mexican War," said cemetery director, Gregory Lee.

Four wooden coffins arrived on horse drawn caissons.

"They were buried on Greenwood Island and through the course of time were unfortunately lost and forgotten.  We have these brave men here today to finally lay rest in a national shrine befitting their service to our great nation," said Lee.

Members of the honor guard slowly removed each wooden box from the caisson. Hundreds gathered to witness the unique, historic event with attention and respect.

"These soldiers were essentially fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy. Just like so many of the soldiers in other wars. Now we, here today, can welcome them back to the United States of America and give them the tribute they so richly deserve," said William Bozic, with the group Descendents of the Mexican-American War.

Slowly and methodically, soldiers folded the flags that had been draped across each of the handmade wooden caskets.

The remains of the four unknown soldiers will rest amid thousands of other patriots buried in Biloxi National Cemetery.

The solemn ceremony of respect and remembrance is the very essence of Memorial Day. Thomas Wisnieski was the keynote speaker and is director of the Gulf Coast VA Health Center.

"And it is with pride and gratitude that we pause on this Memorial Day to remember great and brave Americans to recognize their valor, to rejoice in the blessings their bravery has secured.  On this Memorial Day, let us continue the great tradition of expressing our heartfelt appreciation for the protectors and defenders of all we cherish and hold dear," he told the crowd.

Four unknown soldiers who served well over a century and a half ago reminded all why it's important to recognize and remember service and sacrifice.

"They will share our hallowed grounds. Never to be forgotten again," said Lee.

At the end of the Mexican-American war in 1848, returning soldiers established a transition camp and hospital near Greenwood Island in Jackson County.

This isn't the first time soldiers' remains were uncovered there. Two other sets of remains were unearthed in 1979 and were also interred at Biloxi National Cemetery.

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