Yemassee celebrated the unveiling of another patriotic mural to honor the town’s history.
Dignitaries and guests gathered at the Yemassee Train Depot Thursday July 9 to see the new mural which was presented by Mayor Colin Moore and Hampton County Council Chairman Clay Bishop.
The extreme heat, even at 6 p.m., and a noisy train passing through the depot did not deter the crowd there to witness the mural’s dedication.
The mural’s materials were provided by Christine and Brian Reardon of Carolina Realty for the artist, Sophie Docalavich, and dedicated to the town the Reardons love.
Docalavich and the Reardons worked together last year to work on a large mural painting on the side of a building in Yemassee to honor the recruits who entered the town for the first time before going to training.
Yemassee has a long history of welcoming soldiers on their way to Parris Island before fighting in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The town had a hotel, barracks, a restaurant and a marine processing center, as well as the train depot where young recruits stepped off the train onto the station platform to enter the world of being a soldier for the first time.
At the dedication, Master Sergeant J. L. Goodwin, retired U.S. Marine Corps, gave his reflections about entering the town of Yemassee as a young recruit in the 1940s. Master Sergeant Dwight Hora, also retired from the Marine Corps and now S.C. senior vice commander for Veterans of Foreign Wars, also spoke about the rich history surrounding Yemassee.
A musical performance was given by singer Nykki Smalls, who recently returned after singing before the Pope in Europe. She led the crowd in singing “God Bless America.”
Docalavich, the mural’s artist, spoke about the meaning of her work. She talked about her grandfather, Gary Nuckolls, a Vietnam Marine, and remarked about the sacrifices that all veterans have made over the years. “I have to say that this was by far one of the most emotionally-charged pieces I have ever been asked to create,” said Docalavich.
Her mural begins with an honor guard firing the funeral volley with ghostly smoke, moves to the shadow of a bugler and an officer’s hands carrying a folded flag. “The choices I made were to invite the viewers to put themselves in the place of a family member who lost a loved one to battle. It is almost haunting and nightmarish,” Docalavich said. “The U.S. and South Carolina flags are also incorporated, not only tying the location here in Yemassee to the thousands who passed through here on their journey to foreign fields of war, but also to represent the homeland for which these brave men were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice,” she added.
“Having celebrated the 4th of July just last weekend, it is worth reflecting on the true cost of freedom. This is my humble way of showing my thanks to all who are willing to take up arms to defend our country,” said Docalavich.
“This is a great day,” said Mayor Moore. “This mural is beautiful, and I find myself driving by it several times a day just to look at it and admire it. It speaks to the heart of Yemassee and the history of the town,” he added.
“The mural is the second in a series that commemorates the relationship between the town of Yemassee and the Marine Corps. With these murals, we honor those veterans and soldiers who came through this town and were willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedom that we all enjoy,” said Councilman Bishop.