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Today is October 4, 2022


Feeling free? Thank our military members, past and present

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

As you make your family’s plans for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, I encourage you to take time to consider the meaning behind the observance, and to talk about it with the young ones in your life.
    Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday of May, traditionally kicks off the summer vacation season. But more important, it’s a time for America to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in military service around the globe while protecting our country, our heritage of freedom and our way of life.
    Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, began as a way to honor soldiers killed in the Civil War. After World War I, Congress extended the observance to include all Americans who died in any war or military action.
   The observance marks the end of National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM), designated by Congress to honor all members, past and present, of the armed forces and their families.
    If you don’t have a veteran or military member in your family, you may not realize the sacrifices demanded not only of the service member but his or her entire family. Whether dealing with a separation due to a deployment or the consequences of a physical or psychological war injury, military families face a range of issues unique to their situation. NMAM observances include Military Spouse Appreciation Day (May 10) to call attention to the sacrifices of military families and to honor their unofficial service in support of our military—and thus, our nation.
   There’s also Loyalty Day (May 1), V-E Day (May 8) and Armed Forces Day (May 18).
    A range of related local celebrations and observances will be held throughout Mississippi this month, some as simple as the laying of flowers in cemeteries. I suspect one of the most moving tributes to those who serve will be staged by a group of students in the gym at Picayune Memorial High School. As you will see in our cover story, these students felt compelled to express appreciation to veterans after witnessing the funeral procession of a local soldier killed while serving in Iraq.
    Since 2007, these students have welcomed hundreds of veterans and current members of the military to the Jerry “Chip” Burge Jr. Memorial Armed Forces Reception, where three generations sit down to talk about war, valor, honor and duty. Many of the veterans were about the age of these students when they were drafted into the military, trained and shipped off to war.
    The reception, set for May 17, is open to all veterans and armed forces personnel and their families, as well as the public.
    Veterans, reservists and members of the National Guard are important members of our own electric power association work force. We certainly appreciate their military service, and if they are a fair representation of our military today, the country is in good hands.
    We should all follow the lead of the Picayune students in personally expressing gratitude for those who served and are serving our country.

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