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Pickering praises soldiers’ ‘great calling’

Americans enjoy the blessings of liberty due to veterans’service throughout the country’s history, and today’s soldiers arefighting to bring the same freedoms to rest of the world, ThirdDistrict U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering said.

Pickering, R-Miss., was the featured speaker Thursday duringBrookhaven American Legion Post 12’s annual Veterans Daycelebration. He said America was built on a foundation of freedomand the opportunity to share in the belief in ideals of thecountry.

“We not only have been given the gifts of this land, but we’vealso been given the stewardship to protect and defend it at alltimes,” said Pickering, praising those who have answered the “greatcalling” of public service in leading and defending thecountry.

Pickering recalled a 1980s missions trip behind the Iron Curtainduring which he saw examples of government denying freedoms andruling people’s lives. He contrasted that with the United States’founding fathers’ ideals of self-determination and rule by thepeople instead of a king or tyrant.

“I believe America is what some have called a new promisedland,” Pickering said. “People from all around this world have cometo this land to have freedom.”

While servicemen and women have defended U.S. soil throughoutits history, they also have had to go to other lands to protectliberties and freedoms in other parts of the world.

“It is our great calling and great responsibility to do so,”Pickering said.

Pickering said wars have been fought on foreign soils so thatthey have not had to be fought here. Like soldiers of pastgenerations, today’s soldiers are fighting to ensure a freedom forfuture generations.

“We will be proud of what our sons and daughters did,” Pickeringsaid.

With the power of faith and ideals of freedom, Pickering saidthe same vision founding fathers had for U.S. will come to MiddleEast. That vision that tyranny, corruption and terrorism can beovercome by freedom and democracy.

“What makes it so it throughout our history, we’ve had peoplewilling to fight and die for that cause,” Pickering said.

Thursday’s ceremony concluded with a tribute to Mississippisoldiers who have died in the current conflicts in Iraq andAfghanistan. Post commander Keith Reeves said 18 Mississippisoldiers, including two who were born here and moved away, havedied.