By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In his 27 years with the Mississippi National Guard, Dennis Smith visited many countries, documenting the work of his fellow soldiers.
From Germany, to the Soviet Union, Ecuador to Honduras, he was able to bear witness to the difference that we, as Americans, could make in the world community.
"The fact that American forces are extended all over the globe is a testament to the fact that we have a significant footprint in doing what we think is right. Particularly with humanitarian things and trying to help other countries."
"You've got people who are very well trained. Keenly aware of their mission. Most of them have civilian jobs. At the same time too it's the backbone of our nation's military, the reservists. You just build up a sense that it's a special brotherhood, sisterhood, I think."
"The thing that we have to realize is, this country has been at war so many times. And it's taken so many people. You just look at WWII, we had millions of men and women in uniform."
"We're losing a thousand of those veterans from WWII a day."
Smith was in charge of the media center at the 60th Anniversary of Normandy in 2004. It was clear how the number of veterans was dwindling, but the respect for their sacrifices was as strong as ever."
"You had so many reenactors, these little encampments all around the countryside. They were so appreciative to be involved in what they were doing, recognizing the value of what the American forces did during the invasion of Normandy back then."
"I was showing one of the veterans from Utah beach, who actually happened to be from Utah. He was standing there on the sidewalk and the dignitaries were coming down this little sidewalk. I reached up and stopped one of the dignitaries and said 'excuse me sir. This WWII veteran would like to shake your hand.' and the official looked over and said, 'No. I'd like to shake his hand.' And it happened to be Secretary of State Colin Powell."
"A few years ago, I was speaking at Veteran Day at Mississippi College, this veteran from the 82nd Airborne came up and afterwards people introduced me to him. And for some strange reason, I had a vial of sand from Normandy and a rock from Normandy that I had in my pocket And I gave it to him and he was just so deeply appreciative."
"People today probably as much today as they did in WWII, recognize the value of the service and the sacrifice many of these men and women have made. They have served their country and in so many cases so honorably. The dedication. I think the people recognize that as much today as certainly since WWII."
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