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Mississippi governor-elect honours veterans at ceremony

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov.-elect Tate Reeves said Friday that the family of slain civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer exemplifies the service of U.S. military veterans.

Reeves spoke at an early Veterans Day ceremony at the adjoining Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson.

He said that when President Donald Trump visited the museums on their opening day in December 2017, a museum trustee told Reeves to make sure Trump saw the photo of Dahmer’s sons, all in military uniforms, after they learned their father had been killed. The family home near Hattiesburg was firebombed in 1966 because Vernon Dahmer (DAY’-mur) was working on black voter registration.

Speaking of the photo of the sons in uniform, Reeves said: “To me, that represents the service and sacrifice of Mississippians from all walks of life. It also illustrates to me that while we have a complicated past, we have a bright, bright future.”

The ceremony Friday was Reeves’ first public appearance since his election-night celebration Tuesday.

Eddie and Jenny Smith, the parents of a Marine killed in Afghanistan in 2011, helped Reeves place a wreath outside the museums to honour veterans.

Their son, Staff Sgt. Jason A. Rogers, was killed in an explosion two days before what would have been his 29th birthday. Rogers was a Brandon High School graduate.

“Sept. 11 really touched him, and he wanted to make a difference for our country,” Jenny Smith said. “He decided to join the Marine Corps. He wanted to be one of the best.”

Emily Wagster Pettus, The Associated Press