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Mercer Brothers honored for military, community service

The West Tennessee Veterans’ Coalition held their monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 17, and honored their monthly veteran-owned business.

This month’s honoree was Mercer Brothers Funeral Home.

Three members of the family were there for the award – Luther II, Marvin Sr. and Larry.

Mary Ross, one of the coordinators of the WTVC, read a little bit of the history of the family and their military service and how the funeral home came to be.

Mercer Brothers Funeral Home was founded in 1973.

Twelve years before that, Luther II, the oldest of eight brothers, was selected in the military draft and had to report for duty for the U.S. Army.

He was the oldest of eight brothers to Carrie Bell Mercer, who became a widow when her husband, Luther I, died in a car accident while she was pregnant with their eighth son.

The family history that Ross read said the five older brothers joined the military and sent money back home so their mother could raise their three younger brothers.

Larry said while they did do that, helping the family wasn’t the only reason four of Luther II’s brothers signed up to join.

“Luther was drafted and shipped out of here, and he’d write letters back to us,” Larry said. “And he told us in those letters about having his own bed and not having to share it with anybody and having two pairs of shoes and having a bunch of stuff we never had.”

“I saw that he had his own bed, and I said I was signing up when I could,” Marvin said. “We had bunk beds and slept in pairs – one at the head of the bed and the other at the foot.”

So over the course of the next few years, Marvin, Larry, Fred and Johnnie would all sign up to serve.

Marvin served in the Air Force and served in Germany.

Fred and Johnnie were in the Army and served in Germany and Korea.

Larry and Luther were also in the Army, and both of them served in Vietnam.

With the exception of Afghanistan, Luther served at every location where the United States occupied from Vietnam through Desert Storm in Iraq and Kuwait in the early 1990s.

And even after that, he served stateside mobilizing troops after 9-11 in 2001 and handling logistics for convoys in the weeks and months after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon along with the other flight that crashed in Pennsylvania after being hijacked by terrorists.

“I did a lot of work in logistics and intelligence, so I was able to help in that way in my later years,” Luther said. “But before then I was in Vietnam, Panama, Kuwait, Iraq. And when I wasn’t overseas, I was getting moved around all over the country too.”

Luther retired in 2004 to help in the family business along with running for and being elected to the Madison County Commission.

The funeral home’s original facility on Hayes Street was destroyed by a tornado in 2003, but the family was able to rebuild and continue the business of serving grieving families in and around Jackson when they reopened with a new building in 2004.

Ross said Carrie Bell Mercer wanted her sons to grow up loving God, their country and taking pride in their community while loving their families.

“I think we can see from their service to the country and the way they serve their community through their business that they have lived up to that example she set for her sons,” Ross said before presenting the family with a certificate. “We as an organization and as a group of Americans thank you for your service and your sacrifice.”

As proud as Luther was of the honor, he said he hoped to see more Black businesses be honored for their service in the community.

“The Black business owners in this town work just as hard as everybody else, and we should be recognized like everyone else,” Luther said. “Not just for supporting our veterans, but just be recognized for the good work they do for the people here.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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