A color guard composed of cadets from MSU’s Army and Air Force ROTC programs participated in the university’s Veterans Day program on the Drill Field Monday.

Veterans and their supporters gathered on the Drill Field at Mississippi State University for a ceremony honoring those in the MSU community who have served, in addition to remembering the school’s military history.

The ceremony included members of the student veteran community at MSU, as well as members of the university’s Army and Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) units. The annual event was organized primarily by the MSU G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center For America’s Veterans. Representatives from MSU’s military community spoke, as well as MSU President Mark Keenum.

Currently, there are nearly 3,000 MSU students tied to the military, counting both veterans and dependents.

Keenum referenced a speech given by former President George W. Bush in 2004, when he called veterans the “hidden heroes of a peaceful nation.” “President Bush said that veterans are our colleagues and friends, they’re our neighbors and family members who answer the call and return to live in the land they loved and defended,” Keenum said. “To that I would add that veterans are our students and alumni, our faculty, our staff. These are the ones who have been willing to answer the call to service right her from our university community.”

He spoke further of the university and the state’s devotion to military service.

“From the conflicts of the 19th century to the present global war on terror, Mississippians have been at the forefront of those who have answered the call,” Keenum said. “We have a unique and special understanding of military service here on the campus of Mississippi State.”

He also spoke to the university’s strong military history, including its first president Stephen D. Lee being a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York and all of the original Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College students serving in a corps of cadets, with military instruction being a standard part of their education.

“The lessons that Stephen D. Lee learned at West Point would serve him will as he guided our institution for our very first two decades,” Keenum said. “Today, this legacy of military science and service continues on our campus through our outstanding Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC. These young men and women are part of a noble legacy of Mississippi State students who have answered the call to serve.”

He spoke to the history of the Drill Field, and said the school’s military pedigree could be seen by ROTC cadets continuing to use it for its original purpose.

“I often look out of my office there at the top of Lee Hall, and I see our cadets out here as they learn to march, salute and as they hone their precision and their discipline,” Keenum said.

Additionally, he discussed efforts the university was making to support military, including waiving the application fee for veterans and allowing members of the Mississippi National Guard to attend State on free tuition. The university was recently named the most veteran

friendly in the SEC. Other honors MSU has received for its support of veterans include being named a Purple Heart University by the Military Order of the Purple Heart in 2015, being named a Top 10 MilitaryFriendly School by VIQTORY for two years running and being named a Military Spouse Friendly University by VIQTORY in 2018, among others.

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