Farmersville is gearing up to bring back its signature community event when it honors veterans and active duty personnel — along with World War II hero Audie Murphy — in a ceremony that the COVID-19 pandemic put on the shelf the past two years.
The 21st Audie Murphy Day celebration is returning Saturday, June 18 and planners are hard at work making sure the commemoration does justice to veterans and the memory of the city’s favored and famed son.
Murphy was serving in the U.S. Army during World War II when he virtually single-handedly saved the French village of Holtzwihr from a German armored unit. The engagement occurred in January 1945, and for his heroism, Murphy received the Medal of Honor. Holtzwihr has honored Murphy every year for decades as well for what he did to save the town. In 2021, Farmersville and Holtzwihr entered into a sister-city agreement in a joint signing ceremony in both communities.
Holtzwihr is a tiny village on France’s border with Germany.
“It’s going to be pretty cool,” said newly re-elected Mayor Bryon Wiebold, who along with his wife, Misty Wiebold, is leading the organizing effort.
For those who want to get a jump-start on the celebration, there will be a special evening planned Friday, June 17. The Farmersville Heritage Museum, which Misty chairs, will open its doors from 5:30 to 7:30 for a special Quilts of Valor exhibit and reception.
The quilts that will be on display have all been made over time by a group of quilting organizations, including the Farmersville Quilt Guild, that come together to make quilts honoring living veterans each year.
Following the reception, the museum and Fine Arts on Main plan jointly to show the film, “To Hell and Back,” in which Audie Murphy portrayed himself in telling the story of his heroic exploits during World War II.
“To Hell and Back” was released in 1955. Admission to the film showing is free, she said.
The next day, June 18 at 7:30 a.m. and continuing until 9:30 a.m., there will be registration and a free breakfast to celebrate veterans at First Baptist Church of Farmersville, located at 124 S. Washington Street.
To register, veterans are asked to call 972-784-6846 during regular office hours, Monday – Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
The parade will start at 10 a.m. featuring the Cavalry Guard from Fort Hood, which will send its soldiers and the horses they ride to lead the parade through downtown Farmersville, Bryon said.
“Fort Hood also is sending its brass band,” he said, adding that the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, which he described as an “elite” organization, will also be present for the festivities honoring Farmersville’s famous son.
Local veterans are welcome to ride in the parade.
Following the parade there will be a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. at the Onion Shed located at 154 S. Main Street, featuring an emissary of Holtzwihr, Patrick Baumann, to call attention to the sister-city arrangement between the communities, said the mayor.
In addition, he said there will be a formal presentation made featuring part of a wheel taken from the armored vehicle that Murphy attacked during the World War II fire fight that resulted in his receiving the Medal of Honor. Baumann’s daughter is the current deputy mayor of Holtzwihr.
Following the ceremony at the Onion Shed, there will be a luncheon honoring veterans at noon at First Baptist Church.
Afternoon activities include two opportunities occurring between noon and 3 p.m. at the Bain-Honaker House and at the museum. The Farmersville Historical Society will open the historic home at 108 College Street for a Women in the Military exhibit and the museum will feature it’s special Audie Murphy and Sister City exhibition.
“We’re going to have some meaningful events this year,” Misty said, adding that the museum is going to receive the wheel taken from the German tank that Murphy mounted and will put it on permanent display.
The Charles Rike Memorial Library, located at 203 Orange Street, will also have special historical artifacts on display from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We want this ceremony to be better and bigger than it’s ever been,” the mayor said.
Sonia Duggan also contributed to this story