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Today is August 18, 2022

D’Lo: a town’s sacrifice in World War II

By Steven Ward

D’Lo: a town’s sacrifice in World War II

D’Lo, which prides itself on Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations, will hold its annual Veterans Day Program on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at the town gazebo near D’Lo Town Hall. Call 601-847-1721 for more information.

While Mississippians celebrate Veterans Day this month on Nov. 11, remember the story of D’Lo.

D’Lo, part of Southern Pine Electric’s service area is a small town in Simpson County that holds a mammoth place in the American history of World War II.

According to reports, 150 men from D’Lo volunteered to fight in World War II — close to 40 percent of the town’s population at the time.

All of the 150 men came back to the town after the war except for eight residents who wound up making the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

D’Lo had more residents per capita fight in World War II than any other town, city or village in the United States.

The town’s contribution to the war effort was so profound, Life magazine wrote a story in their July 6, 1942, issue with the headline, “The Young Men of D’Lo Have Gone to Fight.”

“Their sense of pride and patriotism is a testament to who we are in the South,” said Tommy Lofton, museum director of the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby.

Lofton, who interviewed many World War II veterans during his years working for the National World War II Museum, said men and women from the South and, Mississippi in particular, have always outnumbered military volunteers from other states in the wars the U.S. has fought throughout the years.

“The men in D’Lo lived in a small, close-knit area. Serving in the military is part of what families do down here. Southerners are very territorial about their family land and have traditionally fought to defend that land. And that extends to fighting for our country,” Lofton said.

Andrew Wiest, a professor of history at The University of Southern Mississippi, said there’s a good reason why many small Southern towns have military museums.

“Some of it goes back to The Civil War. There are Mississippians who have had great, great-grandfathers fight in that war and who are members of the National Guard today,” Wiest said.

Wiest also said the strong religious and conservative principles of Southerners play a role in volunteering to fight for their country.

“There is a concept called ‘muscular Christianity’ in the South. That’s about defending your faith. Remember the song, “onward Christian soldiers…”

Right next to the D’Lo Community Center near the middle of town is a granite monument that serves as a memorial to the 150 men who left town in the 1940s to fight in World War II. The names of each resident are on the memorial.

“Stories like this are important. We have to remember, because if we don’t, the sacrifices of these Mississippians will be forgotten and lost to history,” Lofton said.

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