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Price of Freedom: Community honors veterans

Lauren Wood | The Natchez Democrat — Brig. Gen. Robert F. Thomas, right, presents the Bronze Star to Alton Brown, left, and Carolyn McCallister Sunday during the Miss-Lou Patriotic Tribute Veterans Day program on behalf of their late father Cpl. L.W. “Buck” Brown for his service in World War II.

NATCHEZ — Freedom is purchased at an enormous cost.

Lauren Wood | The Natchez Democrat — Vietnam veteran Tommy “Blackie” Williams stands in salute as the National Anthem is sung Sunday morning during the Veterans Day program.

Those words echoed through the Natchez Convention Center Sunday morning as Brig. Gen. Robert F. Thomas reminded approximately 50 attendees of the Miss-Lou Patriotic Tribute Veterans Day program of the service and sacrifice of America’s soldiers.

“Our young men and women who have been on the battlefields of yesterday, who are on the battlefields of today and who will be upon the battlefields of tomorrow are the shining examples of the glory, the honor and the majesty of this great nation,” Thomas said.

At some point, Thomas said, America’s military and wars have affected every citizen of our country.

“Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice in every conflict,” he said. “Since the beginning of our nation, almost every American family has been touched by war. In these wars and conflicts marched the shining example of America — our men and women in uniform.”

Lauren Wood | The Natchez Democrat — Maddie Campbell, 8, signs a note thanking the country and soldiers on the Wall of Remembrance Sunday at the Miss-Lou Patriotic Tribute.

Thomas said he is often asked what prompts America’s soldiers’ “daring and indomitable spirit.”

“Our warriors wear the cloth of our military because they loved America, they revered freedom, they were determined to defend our right to live as individuals and because they valued life,” he said. “So they prepare themselves for battle because they were determined to confront those who sought to destroy our way of life.”

It is difficult, Thomas said, to fully appreciate the sacrifice of America’s military men and women if one has never served or associated with them.

“Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “Yet those who returned made an even more chilling sacrifice as they live with the terrible wounds from these wars and a remembrance of those days.”

Lauren Wood | The Natchez Democrat — Hudson Hooge, 8, holds an American flag during the Miss-Lou Patriotic Tribute Veterans Day program.

“Most of us here today, though, know their stories, and we remember their sacrifice, their bravery, their fear, their tumultuous days and their nights without sleep, without food and without safe passage.”

The future of the nation, Thomas said, will continue to be decided on the battlefields of the world.

“Freedom is not free,” he said. “Our nation has grown to greatness in a very short time because of the character of its people, people who abhor evil and hold onto the divine laws of establishment. Freedom through military victory ensures future generations’ life without fear, liberty without bondage and happiness without question.”

Also during the program, a Bronze Star, a World War II Army Medal, an Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and an Army Good Conduct Medal were presented to the family of the late Cpl. L.W. “Buck” Brown.