Ripley provides feel of small town America for military officers from around the world

For 28 years, military officers from countries around the world have been spending a few days in Ripley to get a feel for life in an American small town.

The high-ranking officers – colonels, captains, admirals, generals and the like – are enrolled at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., for a year of study. As part of their year of study, they visit other places in the United States, but their trip to Ripley is the only time they stay in people’s homes.

The idea to bring the International Fellows to Ripley came from the former Circuit Court Judge Herman Reviere. When he found out about the International Fellows and their year of study in D.C., he thought they should see what small town America is like.

The first year, 12 officers came to Ripley. This year, more than 50 officers arrived in Ripley in late October. They spend two nights here in people’s homes. The host family provides one dinner and one breakfast. The purpose is to give the officers a taste of ordinary American family life.

While in Ripley, the officers visit classrooms, see a mock trial to learn more about our judicial system, visit Fort Pillow State Prison and enjoy a Southern fish fry at the county club.

Circuit Court Judge Joe Walker is now in charge of the visit.

The international officers represent different religions and cultures. Many will become leaders in their own countries. The visit to Ripley has no language barrier, though, because all of the officers speak English.

Ripley residents look forward to the annual visit. “We enjoy doing it,” said one participant. “We feel like we’re doing something for our country.”