Moving tribute to America's heroes held in Gulfport - - The News for South Mississippi

Moving tribute to America's heroes held in Gulfport


The price of freedom rang out clearly, as the bell tolled. So did the cost of war, claiming the lives of almost a million and a half Americans since the birth of our country.

Lt. Colonel Dean Todd is a retired Air Force pilot who served in Vietnam. “Each number has a name and face. Every veteran here today has asked why he or she came home when their friends didn't make it,” Todd said.

While many of us enjoy this holiday, it comes with words of caution from Keesler commander Brigadier General Patrick Higby. “Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to enjoy our freedom. And we do that with picnics, and boating and fun on the beach. But we need to be cautious because it's Memorial Day. We are supposed to remember those freedoms, this enjoyment that we can have today comes at a price,” Higby advised.

That's why members of the Patriot Guard Riders came today. One of them is Sandie Schlett. “We're here to honor all the veterans and all the active duty military as well. Patriot Guard Riders, we do this every day,” Schlett explained.

The 21 gun salute is a stark reminder of sacrifices made and lives lost for state representative Greg Haney. “Remembering them, the soldiers that have done what they've done over the years, and that's why we have the freedom today,” Rep. Haney said.

While this first ever Memorial Day service in Gulfport drew a lot of civilians, and military veterans, it also drew active duty military, and for them, this day was special. Gen. Higby noted, “It serves as an anchor, because the airmen that I'm sitting by, any one of them could be asked to pay that same price tomorrow or the next day, so it helps me stay rooted.”

Rooted in appreciation for the fighting men and women who never came back home.

Monday's service was sponsored by VFW Post 2539, with assistance from the city of Gulfport. Organizers hope to make this an annual event.

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