Southern Miss Honoring Active Military, Veterans with Game Day Tribute
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Contact David Tisdale, 601.266.4499
HATTIESBURG, Miss. –The freedom to cheer on their Golden Eagles is just one reason The University of Southern Mississippi family will pay special tribute to veterans and active military at a home football game each year.
This year the tribute will take place during the Nov. 21 football game against Tulsa, and in subsequent years the University will continue to honor veterans and active military at the home football game scheduled closest to Veterans Day, according to a proclamation signed by University President Martha Saunders and others on Wednesday.
“We have a proud association with the U.S. military dating back to World War I. Our students, faculty and staff have served our country during times of war and peace. Some of them paid the ultimate price. It’s only fitting that we honor their service,” said Dr. Saunders.
“Our ROTC program has produced many distinguished military officers over the years, and we enjoy mutually beneficial relationships with Camp Shelby and Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.”
While the University has previously honored veterans in various ways, the suggestion to codify a recognition of military veterans at a home football game each year came from Southern Miss alumnus and United States Marine Corps veteran Lamar Reynolds, a former board member of the Southern Miss Alumni Association.
Reynolds, a member of the Southern Miss Alumni Hall of Fame, is also known for attending 230 straight Southern Miss football games, a streak that spanned portions of three decades. Both the Association's Traditions Committee and its board of directors quickly supported Reynolds’ suggestion.
On Wednesday, Saunders, Director of Athletics Richard Giannini and Alumni Association Executive Director Bob Pierce were among those signing the proclamation that establishes the practice as the university’s official observance of veterans and active duty military.
Each branch of the military will be recognized during the Tulsa game, and there will be four honor/color guards on the field for the national anthem. Special tributes to the military will be shown on the stadium video board, and student athletes will also make a presentation to military representatives. The game will be followed by a fireworks tribute.
"Southern Miss Athletics is extremely pleased and honored to do its part annually to salute the men and women of our military,” Giannini said. “We continue to pray for the safety of all our active troops who continue to put their lives at stake to protect our freedom."
Military static pieces will be on display at Pride Field throughout the day on Saturday, and the traditional Eagle Walk will feature a World War II jeep pulling the game cannon; an up-armored humvee leading the team; and the Army National Guard chopper (motor bike).
Tickets to the Tulsa game are also being distributed to those stationed at local military bases in South Mississippi, including Camp Shelby; Keesler Air Force in Biloxi; the Seabee Base in Gulfport and the Meridian Naval Air Station, among others. There is also a $5 game ticket available to veterans and military. A pregame cookout will be held for those coming with their squadrons.
"This formal declaration cements an already solid relationship of support and service between USM, Hattiesburg and our men and women in uniform,” said Lt. Col. Doug Haven, chairman of aerospace studies (AFROTC) at Southern Miss. “Our veterans, both in and out of uniform, will be filled with pride over this recognition of their service."
The recognition becomes a part of University’s most treasured celebrations that are protected by a resolution, initially signed in 2007 by Dr. Saunders and then-Alumni Association President Lou Ann Poynter. The resolution establishes the Association's Traditions Committee as a clearinghouse for proposed additions, deletions or alterations to the university's recognized traditions. For more on the University's traditions, or to view the original Traditions Resolution, visit SouthernMissAlumni.com.
To learn more about the university’s tribute to veterans at the Tulsa game and how to donate tickets to active military or veterans, contact the Southern Miss Department of Athletics at 601.266.5017 or call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at 601.266.5418.
PHOTO: University of Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders signs a proclamation Wednesday designating the Southern Miss home football game closest to Veterans Day include special recognition of active duty military and veterans. Looking on is Pride of Mississippi Band Director Mohamad Schuman, Athletics Director Richard Giannini and Alumni Association Executive Director Bob Pierce. (Southern Miss photo by Steve Rouse)
PHOTO: Bob Ledford, left, a World War II veteran and legislative officer for the Mississippi State Office of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, talks with Southern Miss Alumni Association Director Bob Pierce. Pierce and Ledford attended the signing of a proclamation Wednesday on the university’s Hattiesburg campus designating the Southern Miss home football game closest to Veterans Day include special recognition of active duty military and veterans. (Southern Miss photo by Steve Rouse)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.