More Honors For South Mississippi Servicemen And Their Families - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/11/04

More Honors For South Mississippi Servicemen And Their Families

The Army, the state of Mississippi, and individual communities said a final thank you today to the men and women of the National Guard.

Called one of the largest recognition endeavors in history, The Freedom Salute Campaign targeted Guard Soldiers as well as their families and employers for their support and service in this time of war.

"It's very nice you know. To see how people appreciate you, Unlike people in the other wars who didn't get as much appreciation as they needed to get," said Specialist Hollis Gibson.

That's the idea behind the Freedom Salute Campaign.

A chance for individual communities to say a personal thank you to their very own citizen soldiers, like the members of the 890th Division, Company C of Wiggins.

Sgt. Mary McSwain/Richton MS. :

"We know we're appreciated. We thank them for appreciating us like they're doing. But we just want to have that one on one time with our families. That's all we want right now," said Sgt. Mary McSwain.

McSwain left behind a 3 year old daughter, who's now 4. Like so many others, reestablishing that family bond is foremost on her mind right now.

This recognition is also meant to thank all those families, who also sacrificed 13 months to the war effort

Danielle Pickens/Wife of Sgt. Andrew Pickens:

"You have to do what you have to do to keep the family going, and also at the same time giving him the support and encouragement that he needs so that way he's over there focused on what he needs to be doing and not so much not worrying about what's going on back home," said Danielle Pickens, wife of Sgt. Andrew Pickens.

The ceremony in Wiggins was only one of eight held in communities all across south Mississippi today. The final and the largest was held in Gulfport.

"We went to Pervis, Columbia, Lumberton, Picayune, Richton, Pascagoula, and now Gulfport today, to thank the community and thank the families for everything they did while we were deployed. If we're called up well pack our bags and go again, but we hope we don't get called back up no time soon," said Lt. Col. Johnny Sellers.

Sunday's Freedom Salute was also something of a final salute.

The 890th is now returning to regular drill status, and will be swapping out their desert camouflage for their traditional field green fatigues.

By: Don Culpepper

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