During his commencement speech for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, President George W. Bush recognized a Marine who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and the strength of the family he left behind.
Long Beach native, Sergeant Donnie Levens was killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of Africa back in February. He was 25-years-old. On Thursday, the President recognized Levens' mother and brother - both of whom received diplomas.
"There are also military families in the graduating class including the Levens family of Long Beach," said President Bush. "Margaret Levens and her son Matt are getting their degrees. "
The hundreds of MGCCC graduates have overcome a lot in the past few months to earn their degrees. Some lost homes and jobs to the hurricane. The Levens lost a loved one to war.
"They'll carry a picture of a loved one who they remember today," said President Bush. "Earlier this year Donnie Levens, Margaret's son and Matt's brother, was killed in a helicopter crash while his Marine unit was fighting terrorist in the Horn of Africa."
Sergeant Donnie Levens was buried with full military honors. President Bush says the Marine's family also deserves recognition for keeping his spirit alive.
The President added, "Margaret says Donnie's courage is what inspired her to complete her studies. She said, 'I've never been a quitter. Donnie was never a quitter, either. He had a job to do and he did it well. And I am graduating for him today.'"
After the graduation President Bush held a private meeting with some of the families of troops killed or injured in the war on terror.