To celebrate what would have been G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery's 99th birthday, The Montgomery Institute donated a new display to honor him and add to his life legacy onboard Naval Air Station Meridian.
The display is located in the Sonny Montgomery Fitness and Aquatics Center and was presented during a program Aug. 2.
"The word that keeps coming up in conversations is 'patriot,'" said Capt. Brian Horstman, NAS Meridian commanding officer. "I never had the chance to meet Sonny Montgomery, but so many people in this community did and he was a friend to many. This means a tremendous amount to NAS Meridian to be able to honor a patriot of this caliber, and not only to Meridian, but to our country."
Sonny Montgomery was born Aug. 5, 1920, in Meridian, lived through the Great Depression, fought in World War II in Normandy, served for 10 years in the Mississippi legislature, served for 30 years in the U.S. Congress, fought tirelessly for veterans, worked across the aisle to pass the Montgomery GI Bill, led the fight to save NAS Meridian, made sure to answer his constituents' questions, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"We are appreciative to NAS Meridian for allowing us to install this display, and we are looking forward to some other projects that we have in the works with them, further educating new recruits on Sonny's impact on their lives and his leadership legacy," said Barbara Zeller, project coordinator at The Montgomery Institute.
The new display on base consists of a timeline of Sonny's life and career and a shadow box with a tennis racket that belonged to him, made extra special that it is displayed in a gym named for him, as he was a lifelong lover of athletics.
"We hope that these displays serve as a means to highlight Sonny's leadership and legislative legacy for all of the military personnel that pass through Meridian, educating them on the impacts of his work on their lives today," said C.D. Smith, Chairman of the Board for the Institute.
Sonny died in 2006, after the creation of The Montgomery Institute in 2000. The staff of TMI work daily to create, build, guide, and sustain various projects that up-build this area of the country that he loved so dearly and continue his strong legacy of service to its people.
The Navy Operational Support Center onboard NAS Meridian is also named in Montgomery's honor.