On Friday morning, Nov. 11, I had the privilege to join the Sikeston Area Ceremony honoring our Veterans. From the opening presentation of colors to the 21 guns salute and playing of Taps, it was a most meaningful and special tribute to those who have served their country.
Indeed all in attendance were reminded that freedom is anything but free. Your paper's photo and story on Sunday, Nov. 13 captured the spirit of this special event. But to truly experience the ceremony one needed to be in the Field House. The Sikeston Public School officials are to be commended as are the High School and Junior High students who were attentive and respectful throughout the near hour long program. The band, orchestra and choir provided a musical tribute to each branch of service and performed the National Anthem. They were outstanding. Commander Michael Lumpkin, U.S. Navy shared his personal experience of the life and death struggle in the war on terrorism. His personal losses on the battlefield were especially poignant.
Early in the program when the parents of Army Specialist Blake Hall, who was recently killed-in-action in Afghanistan, were recognized, nearly 2000 people stood and applauded in unison as a thank you for their son's service and ultimate sacrifice.
I personally want to thank the organizers of this tribute especially the Veterans Park Committee and the coordinator of this particular program, Blair Moran. When Blair recognized Mrs. Hall as a gold star mother in recognition of her loss, it reminded me of the great debt we owe our Veterans for our freedom. Thank you Veterans, Sikeston Public Schools and all the Veterans Groups, National Guard and attendees for making this Veterans Day event not only a resounding success but a reminder to all of us that "freedom is not free." It has been paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of our Veterans and their families. May we always remember and honor them as a part of our thankfulness for our liberty!
Lloyd F. Smith
Chief of Staff
U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson