HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - They were young and patriotic. All three joined the military after graduating from Harrison Central. Then, in the course of just six years, all three would be killed in the war against Iraq. Harrison Central High school took time Wednesday to reflect and remember three young men taken too soon.
"We don't stop and think about sometimes, in our busy schedule, what a sacrifice they have made, nor do we understand the sacrifice that the families have made," said Harrison County Schools Superintendent Henry Arledge.
A memorial sign will display the names Shane Childers, Danny Varnado and Johnny Polk.
Said one speaker, "We're not here to memorialize, we're here to celebrate their lives and commitment to country."
"There's no greater honor than to swear an allegiance to America and be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our loved ones at home," said Congressman Steven Palazzo.
"This young man gave up college scholarships to deploy with his unit. Specialist Varnado will always be remembered as one of the rising stars of Charlie Company. The "canon" will always be in our hearts and prayers," said Drew Robertson.
Danny Varnado's family appreciates the sentiments.
"We're very proud. We're all graduates of Harrison Central and it's nice to see our alma mater do something to honor our family," said his widow.
Johnny Polk's family said it's nice to know the sacrifice of their loved one is not forgotten.
"It's a great honor that the community and other people get to see what a great man he was and the other soldiers were," said Althea Polk.
"That's my brother and he was a good soldier and the other two was a good soldier," added Walker Polk.
"Lieutenant Childers, Sergeant Varnado and Sergeant Polk are heroes. Plain and simple," said guest speaker Joseph Worley with the U.S. Army.
"It means the world to me that we're honoring these three soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom," said Stacy Hendrickson, who organized the tribute project.
"May their souls rest in peace and may God bless America and everyone who defends her," said Congressman Palazzo.
That sign, memorializing the three soldiers, will be placed at the "Y" intersection near the entrance to Harrison Central High.