South MS veterans: We don't want pity. We want respect.

South MS veterans: We don't want pity. We want respect.

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Military leaders in South Mississippi hope everyone remembers that those who have served our country deserve our respect, and not just on Veterans Day.

Community members joined hundreds of veterans Tuesday for a ceremony at the Armed Forced Retirement Home in Gulfport. From the patriotic songs to school children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, residents said they were deeply touched that people cared enough to honor them on Veterans Day.

"It's just honoring all the members of the service. Past, present and I guess future. Very nice," Veteran Arvydas Vycius said.

"It means a whole lot," said veteran James Ellsberry. "We're just glad that they visit us and everything. We've got a nice group of people out here."

Retired Air Force Lt. General Clark Griffith was the guest speaker.

"We don't want pity. We want respect," Griffith said. "Respect for what you've done, how you've done it and where you've done it."

Officials said part of paying that respect is caring for the veterans at the Armed Forces Retirement home.

"We're providing a place for them, a premier facility so they can relax and live and have family members here to visit," said Administrator Chuck Dickerson. "Take care of them through their final stages of life, if that's what they would desire."

Seabee Base Commander Capt. Paul Odenthal said, "I often come to the retirement home here because it's just such an important legacy for the military to take care of these veterans, and that's why we take care of our own and show them that respect that they deserve."

Veterans said they will always remember those who died defending the country they love.

"There's a lot of them that I knew that didn't make it back," said Ellsberry. "It's just wonderful that we've got this place to take care of us."

The ceremony was followed by an open house in which the public was able to take tours of the home.

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