A 1994 Quitman High School graduate addressed the 39th Annual Veterans Day Assembly held in the newly-remodeled school auditorium. United States Army Major James Attaway flew to Texas from Fort Knox, Kentucky where he is with Human Resources Command to speak at the Friday assembly.
“Everyone here knows someone who is a veteran. What’s amazing is with 300 million plus people in this country less than one percent wear a uniform on active duty or the reserves or the National Guard,” Attaway noted. “And that one percent helps to protect maintain the freedoms of the other 99 percent. Not only do we watch out for Americans it also does it for citizens of different countries around the world. We are deployed all over the world in over 100 different countries.”
Attaway spoke of some of the missions where our armed forces are involved. “You guys know we are in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria where we are taking the fight to the enemy,” he said. “Some of the other things we do involve humanitarian service support. We help with the hurricanes on the Texas coast and in Florida and Puerto Rico.”
Who is the number one enemy we face today? “Without a doubt it is Islamic extremist terrorist. These individuals pledge their allegiance to a twisted and barbaric version of the Islam religion. They will kill people just for not doing or saying exactly what they think you should be doing,” Attaway explained. “We have to be smarter than the enemy. Believe it or not some of the skills you are learning right now in high school like thinking on your feet and think outside the box. We need that today in the military.”
Attaway told the students they had a mission. “What is your mission? It is to stay in school, study hard, graduate and then go on to be a functioning member of our society and be productive. There are various ways you can serve. There is the military. Military life is not for everybody,” Attaway added. “I watched my mom teach for 33 years and that is a selfless profession. Teachers serve day in and day out, a noble profession. There is law enforcement. These men and women run to the sound of gunfire and they are there every day. First responders, these guys run into a building when it is on fire to save people. The point is do something to give back. To use an old Army saying, be all you can be.”
In conclusion Attaway spoke about freedom. “Please remember freedom is not free, it’s absolutely not free.”
Attaway’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star for Service, Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Senior Aviation badge, Airborne Wings, Air Assault Wings, Expert Infantryman’s Badge and the Ranger Tab. Throughout his time as an aviation officer he has served in Kentucky, Florida, Kansas, Korea and deployed overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan.
His next assignment will be as the professor of military science at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches beginning next June. He is the son of Lieutenant Colonel Jim Attaway, retired, and Sally Attaway of Quitman.