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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Clay soldier honored with display

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Brazil Mayor Brian Wyndham (right) and Clay County Veterans Officer Mike Holland hold a display of Homer Edward William Walton, the first Clay County soldier to die in World War I. The display will be set up for viewing in the Clay County Courthouse. [Order this photo]
Homer Edward William Walton will forever be remembered.

On Saturday, Brazil Mayor Brian Wyndham was the featured speaker at the annual Clay County Veterans Loyalty Day Luncheon, which took place at Traditions, Brazil.

While speaking, Wyndham unveiled a display honoring Walton, the first Clay County resident to die in World War I.

Wyndham read off a list of names of the county soldiers who died during World War I before coming to Walton.

He discussed Walton's life before showing off the display, which includes a photograph of Walton, a letter to his family and a document signed by then-President Woodrow Wilson.

Walton died July 23, 1918. The news of his death was received by his mother, via telegram, Aug. 23.

According to information in the display, Walton "was the first Clay County boy to give his life for the cause of world-democracy and a bronze tablet will at some future date be placed in the Carnegie Public Library as a lasting tribute to him who gave his all -- his life. The table will be purchased, inscribed and placed in position with funds subscribed by Clay County citizens for this purchase.

Walton was only 17 when he enlisted. He had worked in some of the Brazil clay plants. He had attended schools in Brazil.

He had enlisted in the Army in 1917 and was in Europe only two months before his death.

Some of Walton's family members were at the luncheon Saturday.

"Words can't describe what our veterans are owed," Wyndham said. "You can say thank you, but you can't say thank you enough."

Wyndham also read the proclamation President Barack Obama had signed declaring May 5 as Loyalty Day.

"Those are some pretty profound words and they ring true here in Brazil," Wyndham said.

Loyalty Day was designated as an official holiday celebrating freedom by Congress in 1958. It was first observed, however, in 1921, as "Americanization Day."

"I'm very proud to be here," Wyndham said. "I'm standing in front of a room full of heroes. It's very important that we remember Loyalty Day."

Wyndham said descendents of Walton approached him a while back saying they had some of his belongings, which they wanted to donate to the Clay County Historical Museum.

In turn, Wyndham suggested they frame some of the items for a display, which will be housed at the Clay County Courthouse.

Clay County Veterans Officer Mike Holland said the turnout for Saturday's event was probably the largest he had ever seen.

"This is our largest event ever," Holland said, adding he had approximately 160 people call his office requesting tickets and seats.

"I don't think we've ever had more than 125 (guests)," Holland added.

Pappy's Barbecue donated time and food for the event.

Door prizes were also given away and there was a raffle for a bicycle. Monies for the door prizes and bicycle were donated from various businesses and local residents.

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thank you Pappy. this was a wonderful thing for you to do to honor our deserving veterans.

-- Posted by Tracy Jones on Mon, May 7, 2012, at 10:53 AM

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