This morning, at 10:00 am, the Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Training Academy held their graduation for Cadet Class 65. With 45 graduates in this year’s class, there was a full auditorium of friends, family, and loved ones of these graduates.
Once everyone entered the room, the lights were dimmed, and a video came on the screens. The audience could tell this was going to be emotional. The video described the hardship, struggle, perseverance, and discipline that it takes to be a State Trooper. The end of the video was dedicated to fallen Trooper John Harris, along with the powerful quote: “There is a quote attributed to Articles on the realities of soldiers in battle. He says ‘Look, out of 100 men, 10 shouldn’t even be here, 80 are just targets, 9 are the real fighters and we are lucky to have them – for they make the battle. But the One… the One is the warrior. And he will bring the others back.’ “
A picture of Trooper John Harris shows on the screen, followed by a dedication “To the One”.
The lights turn on and the room buzzed as the cadets entered the room. They marched down the aisle, staying in time while they chanted. Once everyone was seated, the ceremony began with a prayer and welcoming by Major Johnny Poulos.
Prayers were handed out by each speaker, the Presentation of the Colors was held by MHP Honor Guard, and the National Anthem was sung beautifully by Trooper Jose Watson.
Governor Tate Reeves provided the Commencement Address, and dedicated some powerful words to the Cadets. He spoke directly to the graduating class and stated, “Every single day, we will pray for you. We will pray for it to be God’s will to keep you and your fellow men and women in uniform safe.”
He then spoke to the family members. A somber but powerful message about their role in today, and every day after. Loudly and clearly, he says, “To you, the sacrifice does not end here today. Because we know every single morning, or every single late night, when these men and women go out to protect their fellow man and protect their fellow Mississippian’s, they are at risk. And we know that you as family members bear that burden, but we also know that you love your fellow men. And we know that every single day . . . that you will be praying for them to return home safe.”
Throughout the entire ceremony, the cadets have been sitting in their seats, motionless. Not a scratch, not a sniffle, they sat there looking almost like statues. Hands on their laps. Eyes forward. Back straight.
Soon the processional begins. The Diploma and Badge Presentation was presented by Commissioner Sean J. Tindel and Colonel Randy C. Ginn. After being pinned, taking pictures, shaking hands the graduates finally received their hats. The hats were gently placed on their heads, straightened, and a promise was whispered to the new Troopers as they walked off the stage.
Now, they made it.
Once the ceremony was over, everybody made their way outside where Cadet Class 65, now MHP Troopers, marched for the audience. They were loud, and they were proud.
The graduates were finally released to see their families. They were surrounded by hugs, tears, flowers, and gifts. Their loved ones congratulating them for their hard work and dedication.
We spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Ken K. Brown of Jackson, MS about the emotions that were felt today, and if he remembered what it felt like when he graduated. As a smile crept on his face, and he said, “it seems like it was so real, like it was just yesterday when this very same thing happened to me.”
He offered some words of advice for the following cadet graduating classes: “Stay safe out there and go home to their families. And most important put God first in [your] lives. If nothing else, make sure [you] pray all the time and work hard 100% of the time.”
Soon, the Troopers were called to “Stand By”, and lined up by their new and shiny squad cars. They drove off into the distance, on to bravely patrol the highways of Mississippi.
Congratulation to the MHP Trooper Graduating Class 65!!