The Pontotoc County Chamber of Commerce/Main Street Association and American Legion will be hosting the annual Pontotoc Veteran’s Day celebration this Friday, November 8, at the new large pavilion located at the First Choice Gateway, adjacent to the the Tanglefoot Trail in downtown Pontotoc.

Friday’s weather forecast is calling for mostly cloudy to partly cloudy skies, high of 45 degrees, 20 percent chance of rain and wind out of the north at 15 mph.

"This new venue allows the program to go on, no matter rain or shine – we are so blessed to have this new facility to provide an excellent location for our ceremonies and events," said Mack Huey, Pontotoc County Veterans Service Officer.

Prior to the ceremony the Pontotoc High School Beta Club and Student Council will host a free breakfast for Veterans at the Pontotoc Community House at 9:00.

Following breakfast Veterans are asked to assemble outside of the Community House to participate in the parade which will begin at 10:30.

“The parade route will start at the Pontotoc Community House and proceed south down Main Street, where it will turn right onto Marion Street and go down the hill to College Street and then north to the new large pavilion,” Huey said.

Pontotoc Police Chief Randy Tutor said officers will be leading the parade and escorting parade participants along the new route to the pavilion ceremony site.

“When the parade gets to the gateway, those walking will turn off of College Street and walk across the bridge and along the walking track up to the pavilion,” Tutor advised. “Those veterans who are riding will be driven on down to Reynolds Street and will be dropped off right at the pavilion.”

“Also, handicapped parking will be available behind the city’s gas department building, right where you turn off of Reynolds Street to go to the gateway’s parking lot. Officers will be there assisting parking.”

The Master of Ceremonies this year will be Jack Savely, Commander of the Pontotoc American Legion and the guest speaker will be Lieutenant Colonel Derek Holland, also a member of the Pontotoc American Legion and currently the Facility Commander/Supervisory Aircraft Pilot with the MS Army National Guard - Army Aviation Support Facility in Tupelo.

LTC Holland is the son of Betty Holland and the late Jody Holland of Pontotoc. He is a 1993 graduate of Pontotoc High School and attended Mississippi State University where he studied natural resources management, earning both a Bachelor and Master of Science Degree.

Holland was commissioned as an officer through the ROTC program in 1998. During his career in Army Aviation, LTC Holland has served a variety of unit assignments. He is rated as a Master Army Aviator and holds multiple helicopter qualifications including ratings as an instructor pilot and instrument flight examiner.

He served overseas with the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009-2010 and in 2018 he served in Operation Inherent Resolve where he served with Special Operations Detachment - South headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi. He is also a member of the Pontotoc Civitan Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5395 and attends Immanuel Baptist Church.

"As part of the program we are also very fortunate and thankful to the superintendents and principals for allowing the County and City High School Bands and choirs to participate, they always add a special touch to the ceremony," Huey praised.

"We look forward to your attendance in support of our Veterans on this very special recognition day. Come out and shake the hand of a currently serving military member and our Veterans and thank them for their Service to our Nation."

"As with our long standing tradition, after the ceremony the American Legion cordially invites all military, Veterans, families and members of our communities out to the Legion for a free bowl of stew at 12:00."

The American Legion is located on Legion Lane, behind Wendy’s and True Value Hardware.

For more information please call the Chamber of Commerce or the County Veteran Service Office at 489-5042 or 489-3907.

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