White County War Memorial

White County War Memorial

While the White County Courthouse bell tolled 172 times, the new six-ton granite war memorial was dedicated in Searcy May 30, 1998, before some 500 people from several states.

We’re not here to be morbid, and we’re not here to grieve," state Sen. Mike Beebe of Searcy said. "Those days of mourning for everyone represented have long since come and passed. We’re here to celebrate … and to say we remember those people who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country."

Testimonials were given about each of the two World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War. Senator Beebe asked relatives of the 172 individuals listed on the new monument to stand.

Larry Killough Jr. of Searcy remembered his grandfather, Tommy Killough, who ran a billiards parlor in Searcy and who served in World War I. "My grandmother told me he served in the Navy and was discharged as a cook first class. He had done his duty and there was nothing dramatic about it," he said. "I started thinking: it’s people of my generation who tend to judge heroes by what we see in the movies. I would submit to you the simple act of volunteering or going when your country calls you is itself as much an act of heroism as it is an act of patriotism," Killough said.

Another memorial sits on the opposite side of the Courthouse, erected in 1984 to White County residents who died in Vietnam.

U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder of Little Rock, who served in Vietnam and now serves on the Veterans Committee and National Security Committee, also spoke. "Every name is a story … our kids need to learn those stories, remember those stories and tell the stories," he said.

Robert Scott Bell Jr. of Searcy served in Vietnam and said, "It matters not what war a veteran fought. All that matters is that the veteran fought the war." He stressed the lessons of duty, honor, country, love and sacrifice shown by veterans. He recounted his father’s service as a bomber pilot in World War II and his platoon sergeant in Vietnam who risked his life to save Bell’s. "If it were not for him, my name would be on the memorial on the other corner," he said. "Today and for generations to come, as others pass this memorial … may they be reminded of those lessons … and if the time comes that their country calls them that they be willing to serve also."

Cecil Harrison of Searcy, who served in World War II, described the effects of war on civilians he saw during his tour of duty. "This devastation that I have described didn’t happen in Searcy…It was because of people like this who stood up and said, ‘It can’t happen here,’" he said, referring to those who died in combat.

Memorial director Hank Fulbright presented the memorial and an appreciation award to County Judge Bob Parish. Appreciation awards were also presented to Mary Francis Fulbright, Historical Society President Eddie Best, and Paul Graham of American Legion Post #106, a key fund-raiser. More than 200 residents of the county made contributions toward the memorial, and their names were listed in the program for the event.

The program, punctuated with war songs by the Searcy Singers, closed with one final toll of the 126-year-old Courthouse bell for "the unknown veterans" who died. As research continues, the list of war dead has grown to 173 and others may be added. If you have additional information concerning the new war memorial, contact the Historical Society at P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145.