OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs held a special Memorial Day observance on Friday morning. American Legion members, citizens and community leaders gathered to honor and remember a native son named Emile Ladnier.
Ladnier holds a special place in the city's history of military service and sacrifice.
"We're here today to honor those who have given it all," said Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran, who opened the brief ceremony.
Among those who gave their all was Ladnier; the only Ocean Springs resident killed in World War I.
His name is engraved on the monument that has stood for decades outside this former public school. The stone was dedicated with much fanfare in 1927.
"They had a huge parade starting down at the L&N depot. They had the Biloxi boy's band lead it, the legionnaires, boy scouts, coast guard officers and sailors and hundreds of automobiles, they said in the paper," said Robert Endt, with American Legion Post 42.
Moran accepted a new flag for the monument from the American Legion Post which is named for Ladnier. Jane Beaugez is happy to see the new flag and new lighting system to illuminate it.
"Like one veteran told me, once a monument is dedicated, it's part of the ground. It's not to be moved, but it's to be honored and respected for those who fought. It wouldn't be here if someone hadn't given their lives for it," said Beaugez, who attended school at the building which now houses the Mary C.
One of Ladnier's cousins was among those at the ceremony. He has few, but fond memories of his special relative.
"Naturally, he went off as a young man. Like I always think, that period was when America danced. Emile loved to dance," said cousin, Joseph DeAngelo.
Those who gathered to remember the man honor and appreciate his sacrifice.
"Freedom and doing those things that we enjoy in this country. If it's not for those guys, where would we be?" said Ceasar Purnell, with American Legion Post 42.