Thursday, November 10, 2011
Honoring generations of selfless service
The history of Veterans Day can be traced to the end of World War I, when Allied nations and Germany ceased fighting on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The following year, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 to be a day of “solemn pride” in honor of America’s sacrifice and victory.
Since the Great War, our men and women in uniform have continued to build a remarkable legacy of heroism and duty. Veterans Day is an occasion to give thanks for the selfless service and the precious freedoms veterans have fought to protect.
Mississippi’s Strong Military Tradition
Patriotism runs deep in Mississippi, and pride in our strong military tradition is reflected by the many memorials in communities across our state. It is always a privilege to take part in dedication ceremonies celebrating our rich heritage. Just last month, I had the opportunity to help commemorate a marker remembering Montgomery County native Ensign William Devotie Billingsley – the first naval aviator to die in the line of duty. The same profound appreciation for yesterday’s heroes applies to those serving today.
More than 200,000 veterans call our state home, and hundreds of Mississippians currently serve around the world. As a retired Air Force officer and member of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee, I am committed to making sure that we take care of those who answered the call of duty when America needed them most.
Supporting Our Military Families
Our gratitude on Veterans Day would not be complete without honoring the countless military parents, spouses, grandparents, and siblings who provide constant love and support to our service members. It is important for us to recognize the magnitude of their sacrifice and how we can better the unique challenges they face.
In 2004, Congress created the “Operation Hero Miles” program allowing individuals to donate airline miles for military families to visit injured loved ones. Last week, I joined Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) to introduce a Senate bill that would expand the ways Americans can show their generosity. “Hotels for Heroes” would include the donation of hotel reward points toward travel for military families as part of the “Hero Miles” program. I am hopeful about the potential it has to rally even more support for our military families. You can learn more about how to help at fisherhouse.org/programs/hero-miles.
Educating Tomorrow’s Service Members
The next generation of Mississippi’s military men and women is already preparing to carry on our great legacy of service. Every year, I proudly nominate qualified young people to be considered for appointment to America’s prestigious service academies: West Point, Air Force Academy, Naval Academy, and Merchant Marine Academy. I do not submit nominations to the Coast Guard Academy but can assist with the process for interested applicants.
I am constantly encouraged by the turnout at Academy Day events across our state and the success stories of service academy alumni. On this Veterans Day, let us celebrate the extraordinary contributions of our soldiers and veterans, the blessings of freedom, and the promise of those who decide to follow in their brave footsteps.
Those interested in being nominated to a military academy should submit a letter of request for nomination, resume, school transcript, and three recommendation letters to my Jackson office. The deadline for nominations is December 15.
For more information, please visit my Web site at wicker.senate.gov.
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