-WWI veterans honored with new marker
As of Saturday, Nov. 3, each veteran of WWI buried in Lumpkin County now has a Commemorative Marker placed on their grave.
A community effort funded the project, but it was a labor of love initiated and carried out by local military history buff and researcher Tim Ragland and his wife, Tracey.
“I know who they were, where they went, who they served with, what ship they were on …. [Military history] has been a passion of mine since I was a kid,” Ragland said.
Ragland’s uncle opened a nursing home in Lumpkin County in 1973. His mother, Jonni, ran the home’s office and Ragland spent a good deal of time there.
One of the home’s first residents was a WWI veteran, a second vet joined him about six months later.
It turned out the second man was the first man’s captain during the war.
“I got to listen to them talk about their experiences, things that happened. I was enthralled,” Ragland said.
That interest followed him throughout his life. Ragland spent many hours reading and researching the stories of those who fought in America’s battles, especially those from his home town. Three years ago, while reading Cain’s History of Lumpkin County for the First 100 Years he ran across a list of those who had been drafted to serve in WWI.
“I knew the 100th anniversary of the end of the war was coming up, and I wanted to do something to commemorate those men,” he said. “I felt bad that nothing had really been done with the sesquicentennial of the Civil War happened in 2014 and I didn’t want this anniversary to go unmarked.”
Thus began long months of looking up old service records and finding those who were buried here.
“According to Cain’s history there were 145 drafted or volunteered for service,” Ragland said.
Ragland’s research went further than just the list from Cain’s history. He and his wife Tracey found a second group of men who were natives who had moved away from Lumpkin County and drafted or volunteered from where they were living. A third group moved here after the war and are also buried here.
Once the veterans were found, their graves had to be located, using a computer site available online.
Altogether, 122 graves bear the metal star marking them as WWI veterans. Interestingly, Ragland said, none of the veterans died in combat.
During all this research another part of the project was also underway. Money was being raised to purchase the markers with the help of Lumpkin County Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee and others.
“It took about $2,000 to purchase all the markers, and all the money came from local groups and individuals,” Ragland said.
It took the Raglands six months to place all the markers, a task they did themselves.
“So far as I know, Lumpkin County is the only county in the state of Georgia that has marked all the WWI graves,” he said. “They served in all branches of the Armed Services.
“All of those veterans from Lumpkin County are dead now. The last WWI veteran to die was Rev. Joseph Edward Grizzle, born 1894, died 2000. He is buried at Concord Baptist Church,” Ragland said.
Ragland will speak about the men and the project at 9:30 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park on Courthouse Hill. There will also be a display of authentic WWI items.
Veterans Memorial Park ceremony Saturday
The Lumpkin County Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee invites all Lumpkin County residents and visitors to “honor all who served” Saturday, Nov. 10 at Veterans Memorial Park on Courthouse Hill.
Beginning at 9:30 a.m. there will be a special program honoring those WWI veterans who are buried here. Local military history buff Tim Ragland will give a brief speech about the local veterans who fought in “the war to end all wars.” Ragland recently completed a personal project of placing a Commemorative medal on each WWI veteran’s grave.
There will also be an honor guard and a display of authentic WWI items.
Following the presentation those marching or riding in the Veterans Day Parade will being lining up.
The parade starts at 11 a.m.