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House Rep. Jay Hughes Speaks at Boys State Memorial Day Service in Grove

Rep. Jay Hughes joins members of the Mississippi American Legion on stage at the Boys State Memorial Day service in the Grove.
Rep. Jay Hughes joins members of the Mississippi American Legion on stage at the Boys State Memorial Day service in the Grove.

The Memorial Day service in the Grove today began with the playing of Taps.

As part of Mississippi American Legion Boys State being hosted this week at the University of Mississippi for the very first time (read background story here), a Memorial Day Service was held at the Grove stage at which Oxford’s District 12 State Representative, Jay Hughes, gave the main address

Hughes joined several decorated members of Mississippi’s American Legion on stage.

Hughes himself is from a long line of five generations of veterans, which began with service in the Civil War and Spanish-American War. Growing up, his father, a Navy veteran of the Korean War, instilled the values “duty, honor and country.”

Hughes reflected on a bit of the history behind the celebration of Memorial Day on the last Monday of May, which began when those memorializing casualties on both sides of the Civil War came together to remember the sacrifices on one common day.

“For hundreds of years people have celebrated the dead who gave the highest sacrifice by decorating the graves of the soldiers. It wasn’t until the civil war that there was a real effort to remember, and that’s kind of the foundation of why we are here today, and it was called Decoration Day,” Hughes said. “The Union of course claimed that they started it, and the Confederates claimed that they started it, and they had competing days that they would go decorate the graves of the soldiers. It became so important because over 600,000 of our brothers died on one side or the other during the Civil War. So all of a sudden in a matter of a few years, over 600,000 graves of soldiers needed to be celebrated, and just like the end of the Civil War at the turn of the century it became Memorial Day and the Union and Confederate families joined together to call it Memorial Day and celebrate it on this day, the last Monday of May.”

Hughes also reminded the audience of the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

“Memorial day should not be confused with Veterans Day. You may hear a lot about it but in Veterans Day we celebrate all who served, those who came home and who didn’t,” Hughes said. “But today is the day that we are honoring and remembering those who did not get to come home to their families. They did not have that good fortune. It is those who die in uniform in public places or in places not known to any of us as they crossed over the waters of Jordan known only to their maker.”

Video of Memorial Day speech delivered by Mississippi House Representative Jay Hughes of Oxford.

Rep. Hughes reflected upon his own service in the U.S. Army, saying “basic training and military service are a duty and an honor, it is a willingness to put others above yourself and put your country and freedom at the top.”

Rep. Hughes also reflected on how military service changed him, “It led me down a path of appreciation, respect, focus, and it’s what got me on the right path.”

He concluded that the three core values he learned dictate “what you ought to be, what you can be and what each of you will be. We would all be better served if everyone served to learn these three traits. We are all better for those who have fought and paid the highest price to ensure that our democracy remains the greatest in the world.”

After the service, Director of Mississippi Boys State, Britton Smith, outlined what this year’s Boys State program at Ole Miss will entail, “this is a week long political simulation program to teach local and state politics, where teams are divided to represent fictitious states, cities and parties, and by the end of the week they have to formulate legislation and form an agenda.”

Each team learns how different levels of government function through each job. Each team’s members are randomly selected to allow for different representations across the state. They will be holding debates and speeches throughout the week before the final election results announcement on Wednesday June 1, in the Nutt Auditorium on campus.

Smith mentioned that also on Memorial Day, there will be a decathlon in which the young men compete in sporting events. Each team creates its own flag and chants to promote camaraderie.

“Boys State has a tradition and proven track record in educating young people about the vital role of state and national government,” said William Gottshall, executive director of the UM Trent Lott Leadership Institute. “Boys State is a welcomed addition to Ole Miss’ leadership programming.”

Members of the 2016 Boys State Delegation chant USA at a Memorial Day service today in the Grove.

Mississippi Rep. Jay Hughes poses with members of "Hughes Town." Each year the fictional towns used to create a mock government are named after speakers during the week.
Mississippi Rep. Jay Hughes poses with members of “Hughes Town.” Each year the fictional towns used to create a mock government are named after speakers during the week.
Rep. Jay Hughes and his daughter Patricia, who is currently going into 9th grade.
Rep. Jay Hughes and his daughter Patricia, who is currently going into 9th grade at Oxford High School.

 


Meggie Carter is a staff writer at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at meggie.carter@hottytoddy.com.

 

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