The Keesler Honor Guard presented the colors under the USM Gulf Coast oak trees. A group gathered for a military ceremony recited the pledge of allegiance.
Three decades earlier, army veteran Bob Brightman made his own pledge to America. "We have what we have because of a lot of blood, sweat and tears of a lot of people," the Vietnam veteran said.
Brightman was at USM as an invited guest of Mark Sedgwick. Sedgwick and the USM Gulf Coast Student Government Association wanted to salute fallen soldiers. So the SGA unveiled a military monument, and dedicated it to the men and women who preserved America's enduring freedom. "The courage our military has given has allowed us every hour that we live in freedom today," Sedgwick said.
B.J. Jordan is the SGA treasurer. He's also a Vietnam veteran. "Honoring that sacrifice serves to remind us not only the cost of war, but perhaps more importantly, the price we must pay for peace," Jordan told the crowd.
Brightman was all too aware of what that price could cost. The veteran stood under the USM oaks and wondered when his daughter's Army unit would return from Iraq, and when his son's Marine unit would head over there. "I know what my father went through," Brightman said. "All I can do is ask for them to be protected. That's all. Watch over them."
And that brings us back to the new monument in USM's Liberty Garden. To Brightman, it symbolizes everything good about America's military. "The significance is they're remembering. People are remembering," he said.