Jun 08 2020
Volunteers Bring Calm and Security to Nation’s Capital
During this time of great pain and unrest for our country, a group of dedicated young Mississippi troops is bringing peace and stability to our nation’s capital. They are volunteers from our very own Mississippi National Guard who, at the request of the Pentagon, left their families and homes to guard the streets of Washington. These men and women are coordinating with law enforcement to protect peaceful protesters, local residents, private property, and our most cherished monuments from the riots and vandalism that have marked recent days.
Modern-Day Minute Men
These volunteers deserve high praise for their swift response. At noon on Monday, they received word from Mississippi’s Adjutant General Durr Boyles. By 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, nearly 400 guardsmen had packed their bags, suited up, and were busing into Jackson from all over the state. They converged at Thompson Field in Flowood, where Mississippi’s 172nd Airlift Wing flew them on C-17s to Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington. Senior leaders then worked late into the night planning Wednesday’s objectives. By Wednesday afternoon, our guardsmen were carrying out missions, bringing calm to a city on edge.
In the evening, the guardsmen began a rotation. Two hundred deployed to posts in downtown Washington to support riot control, and at midnight, the remaining 200 took their place. It may be surprising to learn these troops are unarmed. They are equipped only with riot shields, face covers, body armor, and masks. And they are joined by hundreds of fellow guardsmen from across America.
Hearts of Service
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and I were able to meet with a number of these volunteers, including Lieutenant Colonel Charles Moss, the deputy commanding officer. On our way, in the center of town, we had to pass through checkpoints and drive down deserted streets with boarded up storefronts and restaurants. One of the young guardsmen I spoke with is an Army specialist and graduate of Jim Hill High School in Jackson, where he participated in the JROTC program. He shared with me the joy he takes in going back to meet with young cadets who are finding JROTC to be a profound source of direction and stability in life. I can only hope they follow in his footsteps and model his heart of service.
Many of these soldiers are already seasoned veterans. They lead civilian lives, including several current and former congressional staffers. Most were stationed last year in Kuwait, where they were part of the campaign against ISIS in nearby Iraq and Syria. Some of them also served in Jordan, Oman, and Qatar before returning home.
Heroes, Now at Home
The dedication these troops showed during overseas deployments is now being displayed on the streets of Washington. Each of them volunteered to leave their families and jobs at a moment’s notice to serve this country they love. I am sure many of them never expected to be guarding our nation’s capital, but they are doing so with distinction that ought to make every Mississippian proud.
At a time of national crisis, when some might be tempted to doubt this country’s future, our National Guardsmen remind us of the spirit of service that makes America truly great. They are not only protecting our capital. They are showing that character, sacrifice, and love of country will outlast the pain and suffering that our nation has recently endured.