When he spoke to a group of veterans last week, Michael Manion wanted to acknowledge not only the work they had done, but also how that work contributed to today's U.S. military.
With Veterans Day approaching, the vice commander of the 81st Training Wing said he pushed the airmen he commands to honor that tradition -- on Veterans Day and every other day.
"I attribute much of our success and credibility in the military today to the veterans who served ahead of us. Selflessly sacrificing for others, these heroes committed to be part of something larger than themselves. They did this during some very hard times, in harsh conditions and for long periods of time away from family. Whether on foreign soil or at home, all veterans sacrificed time enjoying the very freedoms they swore to protect," he said.
Beginning this weekend and continuing through the week, the rest of the Coast will also honor veterans, through parades and concerts, festivals and pancake breakfasts.
It's no surprise. Even after contributing to the armed forces and to the security of the U.S., the veterans are still contributing to South Mississippi.
There are more than 41,000 veterans in the three coastal counties and more than 220,000 in Mississippi. That means one in five Coast residents is a veteran. One in four Mississippi residents over the age of 65 is a veteran.
Many were stationed here and chose to stay. Others may have received many other assignnents outside of Mississippi and chose to come back.
Many are here because of Keesler Medical Center, the second largest Air Force hospital in the country.
That includes retired Lt. Gen. Clark Griffith, who told a crowd last month he and his wife chose the Coast out of 30 assignments he'd had largely because of the medical center.
Others are here because of the hospitality or because of family.
As Veterans Day approaches, many said they appreciated the events being put on.
"Of course it makes you feel good," said Larry Clark, retired Air Force. "Most people here remember the military year round but that's not true everywhere. So it's nice to see people come out for this."
After the parades Saturday, events this week will include more parades, breakfasts concerts hosted by cities, schools and various organizations.