A Real Mississippian, A Real Patriot


Today, July 13, 2010, my brother 

received the Malcolm Hickey Award 
for Lifetime Achievement in the 
American Legion. My sister, Grace,
arranged for all the local family 
to surprise him at the presentation.
Some of us were too far away to attend. 
I wrote him this letter.

Dear Mike,
You have been our hero for so many years, 
in both war and peace. You not only served our 
country well, but you have continued serving 
the veterans as a constant reminder to all of us 
that freedom is not free. It costs somebody 
something whether it is a mother her son, 
a father his sanity as he waits by the television 
or radio to hear word from the battlefield. 
Distorted or not, it’s something to cling to.  
A maybe. A perhaps. Or that daily trek to 
the paper box to see for himself a bit of a map 
so he can say, “Here, right here! His last letter 
said he was on this road!”—always grateful for the 
slightest word. We remember those days through tears.
Years later, and with much dignity and pride 
not in yourself, because that’s not who you are, 
but pride in being so American that you still cry 
when the flag is raised, when the National Anthem 
is sung, when you see our current heroes in an 
airport wearing fatigues (or is it digitals now?)
—dignity and pride because, in the midst of the 
political turmoil and unpatriotic hype, 
you are that American veteran-soldier 
role model who knows the difference. 
You are that calm but dynamic leader 
in a time when reinforcing the courage and 
camaraderie of the American veteran is vital.
You are making us all proud by 
“taking care of the veterans” 
when they come home to New Albany 
and Union County, Mississippi. 
And yes, until they die. 

And now you are receiving the extraordinary and
coveted award from the American Legion, 
the highest honor in New Albany and Union County
—the Malcolm Hickey Award. We honor you.
Like your forebears at Gettysburg, you are a “Mississippi Boy” 
in the full sense of the word, and I am
Your very proud sister,

Wanda Jane


  1. What a beautiful tribute. How important it is for us to recognize and acknowledge our veterans and the sacrifices they have made on our behalf. Mike sounds like a wonderful brother, gentleman, and role model for all of us.


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