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To those in the National Guard, thank you

Just shy of 219 years ago, Winthrop Sargent, territorial governor of Mississippi, officially called for the organization of a militia. That 1798 call was the birth of what we now know as the Mississippi Army National Guard. In 1939, the Mississippi Air National Guard was formed.

Though its first recorded action didn’t come until 1806 — as a response to actions by Aaron Burr in attempting to form a new republic — the MNG would not have been able to respond had the militia not first been formed and prepared.

The stated federal mission of the Guard is “to serve for the common defense, under Presidential authority, in times of national emergency or war.” The state mission is “to provide protection of life and property, and uphold the preservation of peace, order and public safety for the citizens of Mississippi, under the leadership of the governor.”

The Guard has responded to 14 hurricanes, five tornadoes, seven floods and numerous civil disturbances. In 2005, the men and women of the Guard responded to the worst natural disaster to ever hit the United States when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.

Thousands of Mississippians have served our state and our country through the National Guard.

Unfortunately, the Guard seems to be the forgotten sibling of the U.S. Armed Forces. But whether a person serves in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard or National Guard (Army/Air), their mission is to serve and protect the people of their country.

People in the Guard work civilian jobs day-in and day-out, and show up for military training weekends and summer training sessions to keep their skills sharp and stay ready. Some veterans have told me they felt they didn’t really serve their country much because the years they were enlisted were during peacetime.

But I completely disagree.

I don’t mind if our soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen and guardsmen train and train and hone their skills and never have to deploy in order to fight a war or even a battle. But I sure want them to be ready if they are needed.

I have no problem with fire fighters getting paid to sit at the firehouse and never go fight a fire. But if my apartment building ever catches on fire, I’m glad to know they know what they’re doing and will be ready to respond.

I don’t want to ever ride in the back of an ambulance to the hospital because I’m in need of emergency medical attention, but if I ever need to do that, I’m glad there are men and women trained and ready to help me if the need arises.

Examples abound here.

A friend once told me about the job he had as a safety officer for a chemical company. He spent most of his day riding around on a golf cart checking displays on machines or sitting at his desk playing games or watching movies on his computer.

“What does the company pay you to do?” I asked him.

“Nothing,” was his answer. “They pay me for what I know how to do if something goes wrong.”

And if something goes wrong, they definitely want him ready That knowledge and skillset made his job and pay worthwhile.

I hope we never have opportunity to need the brave men and women of the Mississippi National Guard to defend or rescue us again. But I’m so grateful they are there if the need arises.

To all who serve or have served, thank you.

News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at 601-265-5307 or brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.