Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and honor the men and women who have died while serving our country. These soldiers for freedom have served our country bravely. On a day like today, it's important to remember and honor those who have served and are serving our country.
When President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961, he said, "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country." For generations, American soldiers and their families have answered this call.
In Mississippi, thousands have heeded that call to serve and have fought to protect life and liberty. More than 227,335 veterans live in Mississippi, defending our country in World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a state, we need to remember their service and do what we can do to help these heroes.
To thank these wonderful citizens for their service, Mississippi has found some small ways to give back and serve them.
With the help of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, I proclaimed 2013 as the year to "Hire Mississippi Heroes." The proclamation was coupled with a Pledge to Hire Mississippi Heroes outreach program, in which MDES assists employers that make the pledge by helping these companies connect qualified veterans with open positions. To date, more than 75 employers have joined the effort.
We've also hosted two job fairs specifically for veterans and their families and will host a third on June 27 at the Itawamba Community College Belden Center in Tupelo. So far this year, we've helped place more than 830 veterans in jobs around the state.
More and more companies are realizing the tremendous value of hiring veterans, and I was very proud to enact a new measure that helps those with military training apply their experience toward requirements for work licenses, certifications and registrations. In addition to directly aiding veterans, Senate Bill 2419 also supports military families by helping qualified spouses of active duty personnel quickly obtain work licenses for many professions if their family moves to Mississippi on military orders.
Military personnel and their families are vitally important to Mississippi's communities and economy, and these successes are proof that Mississippi truly does care about those who have served. This Memorial Day, let us remember those who have given their life for our very freedom as well as those who put their lives on the line. It is their bravery and their patriotism that marks them as America's finest citizens--the ones who stepped out of the crowd and swore an oath to support and defend our nation.