Every time Memorial Hall comes up in the news, I'm going to comment. (Thanks to Globe reporter Debby Woodin for her awesome stories.)
Throughout their lives, what veterans have done and what they have been given has always received little recognition. They have given all for us. Therefore, whatever they received as a "thank you" should never be concluded. They have never been given what they rightly deserve. No one can fill their place, and nothing can equal the value of their service.
Show them the necessary gratitude by giving them what they need to live comfortably every day.
A priority of veterans is preserving Memorial Hall. It was constructed to honor them, though it hasn't been taken care of as it should have been.
They will know how much you care by how much you do for them. Don't do anything short of greatness.
Repair Memorial Hall to the No. 1 place it was from the beginning.
And let this be a wakeup call from this day forward to take care of every building when it has a need. Memorial Hall should have been on the National Register of Historic Places years ago. It is shameful. The renovation and repurposing of Memorial Hall is long overdue. To be completed, it has to be finished in work, not in words.
Have you ever stopped to wonder about what has happened at Memorial Hall besides veterans meetings and conventions that give it a rightful place in city history?
Here is a partial list of events that were held frequently, some annually. (There are pictures and stories for proof; in the new plan, there should be pictures on walls in hallways in Memorial Hall — never forgetting.)
• Golden Gloves, which shaped many young men.
• The Harlem Globetrotters entertained a full house.
• Many bands and entertainers appeared, namely Erskine Hawkins and Orchestra; Earl "Fatha" Hines and his Swinging Rays of Rhythm; Louis Jordan with Dallas Bartley and his brother Paul Bartley from Springfield; Cab Calloway; George Hudson and Orchestra; the All-Girl Band from Piney Wood, Mississippi; Nat King Cole; the Mills Brothers; Brother Joe May, a national Gospel singer; Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, a top dancer; and Broadway musicals, including "Cabin in the Sky," "Stormy Weather" and others.
We (Joplin's Black community) were allowed to attend some things. If it was a dance, we couldn't dance on the floor until after midnight. Most people would leave, but others stayed and danced with us.
We saw all the entertainers because Mrs. Ferne Wilder and Mrs. Melissa Cuther had them give us a matinee at Lincoln School. The Black entertainers had to stay in Mrs. Cuther's residence because they couldn't stay in hotels.
• Empire District Electric Co. had its family Christmas parties there.
• There also were cooking schools and many other events.
Memorial Hall was the only place you could go for special things regardless of what they were.
Any place with that much going on deserves being saved.
Betty Smith is a Joplin resident.