Community, campus veterans honored during annual ceremony

Col. Albert Germany, right, listens as a musical tribute to veterans was played during MCC’s Veterans Day program.  Col. Albert Germany, right, listens as a musical tribute to veterans was played during MCC’s Veterans Day program.  

Meridian Community College honored veterans with a special Veterans Day Program – both on campus and in the community – two days before the traditional tributes were to be held.  

Many in the audience were faculty, staff, and students who are also veterans; community residents who are veterans were also saluted.  

During the Veterans Day Program address to the McCain Theater audience, keynote speaker Col. Albert Germany, Joint Air Component Coordination Element Director of the 186th Air Component Operations squadron at Key Field Air National Guard Base, said the veteran today commits more to long-term service, so many vets are still serving and will continue to serve.  

Col. Germany enlisted in the Mississippi Air National Guard in 1995 as a Fuels Journeyman before commissioning to attend pilot training in 1998. He flew the first operational sortie from Key Field Air National Guard base on the night of Sept. 11, 2001, following the terror attacks on 9-11.  

He asked the audience, “What does it mean to be a veteran today? We take a lot of pride in what we do. We are motivated by the opportunity to help and serve.” 

He noted that many veterans are behind the scenes working to ensure everything goes as planned, and they are not always recognized for their efforts. Col. Germany also paid tribute to family members who remained home while their serviceman or woman defended the country. 

As a part of the ceremony, the Meridian Naval Air Station Color Guard presented the colors; Hattie Epting, an MCC veteran and a retired sergeant, led the pledge of allegiance; Lori Smith, dean of workforce education, offered the invocation; and Cyndy Bratu, MCC financial services coordinator and U.S. Army Reserve veteran, introduced speaker Germany.  

MCC Director of Financial Aid Whitney Stevens shared with the audience that the College was again designated a Military Friendly Institution for the 2023-24 school year and made the 2023 Military Times Best for Vets Colleges list. 

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