SUBMITTED BY SHIRLEY MANNING –
Mena, AR — As part of the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Historical Marker Program, Polk County has been successful in obtaining a Civil War Marker to designate and honor those who were a part of our history. “We hope this Marker will serve to educate visitors on our local history. As dreadful as it was, the Civil War was a part of an important time in our history that should be remembered and honored,” said Shirley Manning, organizer of the event.
An unveiling and dedication ceremony to commemorate the events that took place in Polk County during the Civil War, 1861–1865, will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2016, starting at 2 p.m. near the KCS Depot in Mena. The Marker will sit on the grassy area near the parking lot of the Depot. The unveiling program will begin with a short welcome by Judge Brandon Ellison, followed by a moment of silence in respect for those who died in this great war. Mayor George McKee will give recognition to those involved in obtaining and funding the marker.
Sherwood Avenue from DeQueen Street to Mena Street will be blocked from 1:30 – 2:30 for this event, and Janssen Avenue and DeQueen Street will be blocked for a short time while the parade crosses to the Armory.
Presenting the Colors will be the Polk County Veterans, representing the U.S.A (Union), and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp #646, representing the C.S.A (South), and the Daughters of the American Revolution, (DAR) displaying both the U.S.A and Arkansas flags.
The Mena Band Ensemble will play as Laura Lawson leads in singing Dixie and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. This will be followed by the laying of wreaths at mock tombstones for Union (U.S.A) and Confederate (C.S.A) soldiers. Janet Walker, dressed in Civil War widow’s clothing, will slowly ring the bell of honor as the appropriate wreaths are laid and flags are placed by the graves.
The DAR will lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States, followed by singing America My Country, ‘tis of Thee. The Polk County Veterans will play Taps and the program will close with a three-volley salute given by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Polk County Invincibles, Camp #646.
After this part of the ceremony is complete, the entire group will be led by the U.S.A., S.C.V. and D.A.R, followed by members of the committee and the Mena Band Ensemble, led by Mr. Charles Morgan, down DeQueen Street to the old Armory. Those who are able will be asked to walk with the parade. Restrooms, seating and refreshments will be available at the Armory.
At 3 p.m. the second part of the program will begin at the Armory with speakers Shirley Manning, on the history of the Civil War in Polk County, and Harold Coogan on Gen. Robert Glen Shaver, a noted Civil War soldier who lived in Polk County after the war. They will be followed by Dennis Magee of the Civil War Museum West, Hot Springs. Magee will be displaying and describing some actual Civil War artifacts. Mr. Magee has been collecting Civil War memorabilia for many years and his knowledge and his collection are unparalleled in Arkansas.
“Although Polk County was the last county in the state to get on board with the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Civil War Marker program, we will make up for it with this honorable and memorable event. Once the application was received it only took a few weeks to get it filled out and the $1,300 raised to cover our half of the expense of creating the Marker,” said Manning. Additional funding was provided by the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. The application was submitted by Manning and it was sponsored by the Polk County Genealogical Society, of which Manning is a lifetime member. Mayor McKee, representing the City, offered a place for the Marker to be erected. The funds were raised through speaking engagements by Manning to the Lions Club, Kathy Adams’ 60 Plus History Classes, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp #646. Manning also posted on Memories of Mena Facebook page and several donations were sent in. The Genealogy Society handled all funds, with enough money left to pay for the reception to be held following the programs. Any excess monies will be used to further Civil War research and programs through the Polk County Genealogy Society.
Those serving on the Committee are: Shirley Manning, Harold Coogan, Kathy Adams, Becky Horton, Margo Kimp, Janet Walker, Cortez Copher, Linda Johnson, Paul Berry, and Patrick Costello. Laura Lawson helped with the music and Samantha Maechler is the photographer. Mayor McKee also attended all meetings.
The Polk County Civil War Marker Committee welcomes the public to share in and witness this exciting historical event.