By Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran
Mississippi’s U.S. senators, Thad Cochran and Roger Wikcer, offered tributes to all fallen heroes in the spirit of Memorial Day. These comments are excerpted from their statements.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo
Each year on Memorial Day, Mississippians gather to remember the patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Mississippians have commemorated the service of fallen soldiers for nearly 150 years. The beginnings of today’s Memorial Day can be traced back to April 25, 1866, when a group of women in Columbus placed flowers on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers at Friendship Cemetery.
“We carry on this tradition with patriotic parades and assemblies on the last Monday in May, but saluting our service members and their families should happen every day of the year. One way to show our support is making sure our troops have the resources they need to face new and diverse challenges. Likewise, military heroes of older generations should have quality care.
“Our state has a proud tradition of military service, with more than 2,000 Mississippians currently deployed.
“According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are about 22 million veterans nationwide, including 1.7 million from World War II. Last month, I had the great privilege of welcoming veterans from our state to the World War II Memorial in Washington. Ninety-three World War II veterans participated in the special Honor Flight from Gulfport to Washington.
“A few days after the trip, one veteran, J.B. Stonecypher, described his experience at the memorial in al letter to The Mississippi Press. He wrote, ‘Look over the wall with me and think of the 400,000 men who gave their lives for the liberty you now enjoy. If it had not been for these men and God’s grace, you would be living as servants to another nation. In fact, the whole world would be.’”
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Jackson and Oxford
Cochran, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense, submitted his traditional statement to the Congressional Record in advance of Memorial Day. Cochran focuses on Mississippians who lost their lives in the line of duty since Memorial Day 2011.
“Today, there are media reports about the American people becoming ‘war weary’after more than a decade of combat activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Many lives and great expense have been marshaled since the 9/11 attacks, but I would submit that Americans are unfaltering in their appreciation for the honor, courage and dedication shown by our servicemen and women. This is especially the case for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for their country.
“This Memorial Day, I will take time to honor our brave fallen warriors, including the more than 70 military personnel from Mississippi who have died in the service of our nation in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world over the past decade.
“For the Record, I offer the names of these brave Mississippians, who have fallen since the nation commemorated Memorial Day last year. They are:
* Sgt. Christopher R. Bell, 21, of Golden, who died June 4, 2011
* Petty Officer Stacy O. Johnson, 35, of Rolling Fork, who died July 18, 2011
* Lance Cpl. Edward J. Dycus, 22, of Greenville, who died Feb. 1, 2012
* Sgt. 1st Class Billy E. Sutton, 42, of Tupelo, who died Feb. 7, 2012
* Master Sgt. Scott E. Pruitt, 38, of Gautier, who died April 28, 2012
* Staff Sgt. Carlous Perry, 30, of West Point, who died April 30, 2012
“I am confident that the people of (Mississippi) will join the national commemoration to remember these men and the thousands of Mississippians, who over the course of this great nation’s history, have courageously served and sacrificed their lives in that service.
“In these challenging times, we should also reaffirm our commitment to the servicemen and women who today put themselves in danger on our behalf. We must remain resolved to ensure that those who join our armed forces are the best equipped and best trained in the world, and that we meet our obligations to those who have served and sacrificed in the defense of our nation.
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Jackson and Oxford, is serving his sixth term. U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo, is running for his first full term. Both can be contacted bby mail at United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510.