Delta Democrat Times
Every day is Flag Day
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith
Dear Editor,
The U.S. Senate debate on the National Defense Authorization Act this year coincided with the national commemoration of Flag Day and National Flag Week. Both tributes underscore the significance of our duty to our Armed Forces and the iconic Stars and Stripes banner they carry into every mission. Our debate highlights the fact that every day is Flag Day for servicemembers and their families.
In issuing the proclamation designating Flag Day and the week of June 10 as National Flag Week, President Donald Trump encouraged all Americans to reflect on what all this emblem of freedom means to our nation.
The president said, "May we never forget the tremendous sacrifices required to secure and maintain our freedom. Let us proudly stand and remember our founding principles and our country's ever continuing march to achieve a more perfect Union. As we raise our flag, let us resolve always to cherish it with reverence and eternal gratitude so that the red, white, and blue may forever wave from sea to shining sea."
The annual National Defense Authorization Act sets important defense policies that affect the direction of our national security and the care of the brave women and men of our Armed Forces and their families. The 2019 bill includes the largest year-on-year increase for defense in 15 years, and includes a 2.6 percent pay raise for American servicemembers - the largest pay raise for our service members in nearly 10 years. It also authorizes funding for the programs to keep our military forces the best trained and equipped force in the world.
I consider these priorities particularly important as we in Mississippi are following preparations for the deployment of the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team to the Middle East. The 155th, consisting of more than 4,000 Mississippi National Guard soldiers, who are being asked to help defend our national security interests in one of the most dangerous regions of the world. They will be gone from their families for at least a year.
They will make us proud - just as they already have. This group recently received a Navy Unit Commendation for outstanding heroic duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom III in 2005 and 2006. Sixteen Mississippi soldiers were killed during combat operations then. Each died with a flag on their shoulders. Each was buried with a flag on their coffins, and that symbol of a grateful nation was presented to each family.
There is no question that the American flag stands for something important. This red, white and blue emblem honors both their sacrifice and the reason they fought. Their fight continues today, and we should dedicate ourselves to supporting the men and women who continue the battle to protect what makes our nation great.
I see work on the National Defense Authorization Act as one way to honor our flag by working to provide the training, resources, protection, technology and weapons to those who serve and sacrifice under that Flag. That work will continue in Congress as we appropriate the funding to back up the policies set in the authorization act.
The president encouraged Americans to honor the flag from Flag Day to Independence Day. Such tributes are proper, particularly as we recognize that every day is Flag Day for our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, guardsmen, reservists, coastguardsmen and their families.
Cindy Hyde-Smith, U.S. Senator