This Veterans Day come see “Reflections of Red, White and Blue” at the Hayden Liberty Center, 111 W. Fifth Street.

Sedalia photographer Mark Hammond was inspired to create this exhibit after attending funeral services for Dennis Gray on Feb. 15. Gray died alone in Sedalia and no next of kin could be found. Pettis County Coroner Skip Smith discovered he was a Vietnam veteran and felt he deserved a proper burial. Military services were held at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville.

“There were so many folks here that day to include regular folks who just wanted to make sure that he was honored by their attendance,” said Teddie Velleri, cemetery director at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery. “Pettis County Coroner Skip Smith did a lot of the coordinating. VFW 2591 out of Sedalia was tasked for the rifle volleys and the playing of taps. The Army team assigned for flag folding was done thru Military Funeral Honors out of Jefferson City."

The Missouri Patriot Guard showed up, as almost 200 men and women from around the state rolled in with flags flying and pipes roaring. This show of devotion to a man they didn’t even know affected Hammond deeply.

Less than 24 hours before the scheduled service, a brother (William Gray) contacted Skip Smith. William heard about the service for his long lost brother through social media and television. He hadn’t seen him in 20 years.

William received the flag on behalf of his fallen brother with two more relatives who were able to attend.

“Although always appreciative of the men and women who have served proudly in the U.S. military, I rarely had done a selfless act such as the Patriot Guard had shown that day,” Hammond said. “The words ‘Thank you for your service’ now seemed empty and hollow.”

Hammond was determined to remedy this in the only way he knew how – photography. He began taking pictures of every day veterans and documenting their stories. In this exhibit, 26 veterans from Sedalia, Florence, Marshall, Green Ridge, Lincoln, Kansas City, Cottleville and Warrensburg are featured. They will be in attendance at this event.

This exhibit will open to the public at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 11 with a short opening ceremony starting at 5:45 p.m. Admission is free.

“When you leave this exhibit, it is the hope of all who played a small part in bringing it to you, that you will look for veterans in your own communities whose service may have been forgotten,” Hammond said. “If all of us take the time to show our veterans that we are truly thankful for their service, then maybe there won’t be another Dennis Gray."

Hayden Liberty Center
Hayden Liberty Center

At 7:30 p.m. Country singer and songwriter, Royal Wade Kimes, will perform at the Hayden Liberty Center. Cost to attend the show is $10; however, veterans are free. Call the office or stop by to get a ticket. (660) 827-3228 or 111 West 5th Street, Sedalia.

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