Paper poppies, patriotism mark American Village tribute

Published 12:00 pm Monday, November 12, 2018

By NANCY WILSTACH / Special to the Reporter

The American Village in Montevallo hosted a Veterans Day “Poppy Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving” Sunday, Nov. 11, that included a religious service and a wreath-laying at the village’s National Veterans Shrine.

Approximately 200 attended on a bright sunny afternoon, and each one was handed a red paper poppy on entering the Thompson Colonial Chapel. After the service, at the shrine, the Rev. Ray Dunmyer read from the poem that inspired red poppies as a commemoration for the holiday that began as Armistice Day after World War I: “In Flanders Field.”

Wreath honoring American veterans placed at Liberty statue at National Veterans Shrine. (Contributed/Nancy Wilstach)

Tom Walker, founder and president of American Village, called the day “a conscious decision to set aside a time certain” to acknowledge the service, dedication and sacrifice of veterans of the nation’s military forces.

Inspirational and patriotic music was performed by the senior Choir of Dawson Baptist Church in Homewood. The 60-member “Dawsonaires,” directed by Dan Mullis, featured soloist Mike Miller on a rousing rendition of “Over There.”

A segment of the liturgy utilizes the voices of an older person and a younger person.

Marvin Copes, the coordinator of Shelby County RSVP, led the prayer and response: “May God Grant Them Peace.” The prayer asks for peace for those who suffered, died, survived, mourned or served.

Representing the younger generation among the gray and graying group was Abigail Heuton, junior mayor of Montevallo, who read New Testament verses.

Walker explained that the service closely emulated the traditional English services observed for Remembrance Day, marking the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Others playing an integral part of the program were Dr. Beth Hamer, chapel chair and a village trustee; Terilyn Patterson, Southampton K-8 School; Loren McAnally, a Vietnam veteran; Dr. Laurie Middaugh, organist; Marcus Andrews; Becky Bolton; and Rush Brunson, historical interpreter.

Andrews, Bolton and Walker read from family World War I memories. Andrews read from a letter his great-great uncle, Charlie M. Bonnell, sent home from France in which Bonnell recounted being shot in his left arm and his left leg and being gassed. The latter claimed his life.

Then, Andrews read the letter his family had received from a Red Cross representative to describe Bonnell’s grave in France and how carefully it was being tended.

Bolton’s reading came from her book, “Hometown Heroes,” about her family in and around Montevallo.

Walker read a segment from his grandfather’s letter home about the harrowing experience of getting to the battlefields of France on a wallowing, overloaded ship that was turned back by storms to Nova Scotia where repairs and a Canadian convoy finished the job of getting the American soldiers to Europe.

After the war, his grandfather became a rural mail carrier, Walker said, “and to the end of his days (in 1983) he was proud of his service to his country in France.”