Earlier this week, America paid homage to both living veterans and veterans who are no longer with us. On that day, Mississippi State University unveiled chairs that serve as immortalized tributes to prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action in Davis Wade Stadium, Dudy Noble Field and the Humphrey Coliseum.
“It was really an honor to be in the building tonight,” head coach of MSU's women's basketball team, Vic Schaefer, said.
During Monday night’s game against the University of Tennessee at Martin, Schaefer spoke about how much of an honor it was to be a part of this moment. He also spoke about how great the gesture was.
"I know my father, who's now deceased, was a veteran who loved his country," Schaefer said. "I grew up loving my country. We have so many veterans a part of this great university, and I know it was a great gesture on our part. It was an honor to be a part of the night, and I'm proud of our kids for the way they played."
Proudly sporting an American flag tie, Schaefer spoke about his father, "The Colonel," who was a war veteran. He said his father served for 32 years, fighting in the European theatre of World War II.
Schaefer went on to speak about someone who is a dear friend to him, Gene Smith from West Point, who was a prisoner of war for six years. Schaefer said he admires Smith as he recalled the 83-year-old's stories about combat.
“To live like he had to live for six and a half years, it really gives you an unbelievable perspective on things,” Schaefer said. “It’s an honor and humbling to be around him, he is one of my dearest friends.”
The five newly unveiled chairs represent the five branches of the military. The Chair of Honor will be unveiled Saturday during MSU’s Military Appreciation football game against the University of Alabama. For future football games, all five chairs will be occupied by a veteran from each branch. Athletic Director John Cohen said MSU takes great pride in honoring current members of the military and veterans.
“The courage and sacrifice of the brave men and women who serve and protect our country allow us the freedoms we have, including attending our Bulldog athletic events,” Cohen said. “These unoccupied Chairs of Honor at our venues will forever serve in remembrance of those who never returned home. There will always be a place in our venues awaiting their return."