Biloxi Memorial Honors Wounded War Heroes - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/22/05

Biloxi Memorial Honors Wounded War Heroes

Wounded, but not forgotten.

That was the theme for a special dedication ceremony Saturday in Biloxi.

Nearly a thousand people gathered in Glennan Park to pay tribute to our military men and women who have been wounded in battle and to view a new monument that honors the state's Purple Heart recepients.

They've navigated foreign lands in years past, dodging bullets and fighting to preserve America's freedom, but this Saturday the journey was easier.

Their destination clear, a dedication ceremony for Biloxi's new Purple Heart Memorial, a monument many veterans view as a form of therapy.

"This wall, this monument makes me so proud. It's a healing process, just like the Vietnam Memorial. It touches your heart. It does things in your mind that you can't explain, you just feel," said Vietnam Veteran Michael Bass.

The memorial was a long-time dream of World War II veteran George Higginbotham, who still bears wounds from a fierce battle in Okinawa that took place on June 18, 1945. 

"I've got one (wound) in my left thigh and one in my right knee. An artillery shell landed that morning. We were getting ready to make our last push, and two artillery shells landed right in the company and that was it," Higginbotham said.

The names and photos of 70 local purple heart recepients are etched into the monument.

It was built in 2004, but it took a lot of time and money for George's dream to become a reality.

"Oh yeah, it took me 60 years, but I done it," Higginbotham said.

Shrapnel lodged in George's body are constant reminders of the toll war can have over the course of a serviceman's lifetime, but veterans say this memorial is also a reminder--a reminder to many that freedom is a cause worth fighting for, even if it means putting your life on the line.

The monument is located just north of the Biloxi Smallcraft Harbor.

Higginbotham is paying for the nearly $100-thousand dollar cost to construct the memorial.

By: Toni Miles

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