Desoto County News

Olive Branch observes Memorial Day with service tribute

Photo: Flags lined the walkway at Blocker Cemetery in Olive Branch ahead of the Memorial Day service. The names of service members and first responders are on the poles of each flag. (Bob Bakken/

Memorial Day was observed in Olive Branch Monday morning in the same way it has been observed for the past 13 years. The Knights of Columbus held a Memorial Day service at Blocker Cemetery, where many service members from the community who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving are buried.  

The solemn tribute included the presentation of colors, Pledge of Allegiance, and National Anthem. Brenda Loftin read an explanation to the display of the Missing Man Table. That is a tribute to fallen, missing, and imprisoned service members. The table has a number of symbolic items representing different aspects of their sacrifice. 

This year’s service had two guest speakers. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Shannon Bibbee reminded those in attendance there have been 7,000 killed in action since 911.

Bibbee remembered three Olive Branch service members in particular during his remarks, Private Frank Walker, who served in World War One, Specialist Daniel Wiley, who was killed in action during the Vietnam War, and Master Sergeant Robert Sutton. Bibbee said Sutton served five tours of duty in the Army and in the Air Force, being a part of action in World War Two, the Korea and the Vietnam conflicts in the two branches of the Armed Services.  

“It’s important not to forget the stories and the legacies,” Bibbee said. “I implore you to remember the spirit of the reason behind Memorial Day, to recognize the sacrifice in the service of those who rose above.”  

Monday’s second speaker was J.D. Walker, the Gully Transportation truck driver whose cab, “The Golden Warrior,” loomed impressively above the service at the top of the Blocker Cemetery hill. Walker’s son, Jeffrey D. Walker died in Iraq during action in 2007. The company had the cab painted in honor of Walker’s son and Walker now drives it over the road.  

“It’s a tribute to my son,” Walker said. “It’s a tribute to all veterans, and it’s a tribute to all the Gold Star family members. I get to drive this truck throughout the United States.”  

Gold Star families are those who have lost a loved one in active military service, including siblings, spouses, children, and extended family members. 

The names of service members buried at Blocker and Payne cemeteries were then read, followed by the playing of “Amazing Grace” by the Phoenix Pipe Band of Memphis and the playing of “Taps.”  

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, has a history that dates back to the aftermath of the Civil War. While many communities held events to commemorate those who died in the war, the city of Waterloo, New York is said to be the city of origin for Memorial Day, a community that had been observing the holiday since May 5, 1866.  The observance fell under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968, taking it away from its traditional May 30 date.