Freedom itself isn't free, but we sure did celebrate it on July 4.
Americans celebrated the Fourth of July amid sparkly skies and finger-licking good food off the grill. Those who paused the party to pronounce their patriotism can remember what's being celebrated. The holiday commemmorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It's a day when there's more red, white and blue around than perhaps any other day on the calendar.
The men and women who have served in this nation's military -- and responsible for maintaining our freedom to celebrate -- are often greeted with simple thanks for their service in the days hovering over the holiday. Their families are thankful to see them in between their calls to duty, wherever they might be. Those who return, particulary reservists, often decide to continue their educations to be more marketable in the global economy. And, for those in central Mississippi, that's where Hinds Community College comes in.
The college's Veterans Services office functions to help active and former service members find ways to finance their education, whether it means maximizing their GI Bills or qualifying for financial aid. Many times, it's a one-stop shop for men and women who want to serve their country and get the best advice, too.
For me, appreciation of veterans is made simple by those in my family who've gone before me, and a few still around. My paternal grandfather served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and an uncle spent three years in Vietnam with the Marines. Several other uncles were the Army in WWII. So, the term "hug a veteran" has applied to me much of my life and has come easy.
Hinds' Veterans Services office is located temporarily in portable buildings near Gibbes Hall, along with Financial Aid and other related services. Coordinators are more than happy to assist recent high school graduates, those returning from service and/or their families with all things process as it relates to their education. And they probably wouldn't mind a hug, either.