DESOTO COUNTY, Miss.– Veterans Day is this Friday and DeSoto County is glowing green to let veterans and their families know we see them, appreciate them, and support them.
Sometimes when you’re on any street or look at any front porch, you might not always realize that a simple flip of a switch is all that’s needed to turn on and shine the light on issues affecting our neighbors.
77-year-old Hugh Green of Southaven wants the spotlight on U.S. military veterans.
“Every time I meet a veteran I thank him for his service and I also tell him welcome home,” Green said.
A heartfelt welcome home and thank you are significant to Hugh Green. He served in the U.S. military spending 14 months in the jungles of Viet Nam fighting in the war.
“Everyone asked me after I came home ‘were you ever scared’ and I said yes and the whole time I was over there,” Green said.
Green knows how a lot of veterans felt when they came back home.
“I know a lot of guys who came home and they were not welcomed home,” he said. “Some of them were bitter, yes, and some of them kind of ignored it, but some were bitter about it, yes.”
DeSoto County, Mississippi is home to more than 11,000 veterans and it’s why people here want to shine a light on them. This week, many are taking a simple gesture of just placing a green bulb in front porch light fixtures to show their appreciation and support. The mission is called “Operation Green Light.”
“Just as we light up street lights and buildings blue for autism awareness, pink for breast cancer awareness, the initiative is to light it up green and I have my light bulb right here to light it up green on our porch lights,” said Mark Gardner, District 2 County Supervisor.
Gardner didn’t serve in the military, but this effort to honor veterans hits close to home because he had family members who fought for our country.
“It’s personal for me,” he said. “My dad served in (General) Patton’s army in World War 2. My brother served with Hugh in Viet Nam. So, we are a military family.”
The goal is simple: by displaying a green light for veterans, the hope is to bring attention to veterans and their needs, reflect on and assist military service personnel as they transition back into civilian life after their military service to our country.
“And tell veterans how much we love them, how much we appreciate them, appreciate their sacrifice, their service. As you know, it’s not only a sacrifice of the one serving, it’s a sacrifice of their family as well and we appreciate it,” Gardner said.
The people with Operation Green Light in DeSoto County say green is the color of hope, renewal, and well-being. The simple action of changing one light to green is intended to spark a national conversation regarding the recognition of veterans and “greenlight” them forward as valued members of our communities.
A community shining a green light on military servicemen and women as a way to say thank you and welcome home.
“To me personally, I feel like somewhere down the road they have heard and someone has taught them why we were at war and the things that we did for freedom and to free other countries so they could be a free nation,” Green said.