Take Time to Remember and Celebrate Those Who Gave All

John Hairston, May 30, 2016

Today, we celebrate Memorial Day—a time to honor the courageous men and women who gave all to help keep us free.

Humble Gratitude for Service and Sacrifice

As we kick off summer relaxing with loved ones, we should all recall the price so many paid to make sure we have the choices to enjoy picnics and family. If you happen to meet or see a veteran, or an active reserve member, or their family members, please consider taking a moment to thank them for their service and sacrifice.

Last week, we partnered with Freeport-McMoRan, Inc., to celebrate Dr. Nick Mueller, president and CEO of The National World War II Museum, receiving the National Order of the Legion of Honour from the president of France. Established in 1802 by Napoleon, the award distinguishes the recipient as a “Chevalier de France,” a knight of France. It’s the highest award France presents for military and civil merit. Dr. Mueller received the award in Paris along with Tom Hanks and Tom Brokaw for their combined work to tell the story of the World War II generation, known as the “Greatest Generation.”


Nick Mueller receives the Legion of Honour 

 Chevalier de France

Dr. Gordon “Nick” Mueller (center), president and CEO of The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, recently received the prestigious Legion of Honour award in Paris, France, along with actor Tom Hanks and noted journalist Tom Brokaw. Consul General of France in Louisiana Gregor Trumel (second from right) recognized Mueller during recent ceremonies in the Whitney Bank lobby at 228 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans. Also pictured (left to right) are Senior Regional President Gary Lorio, event host; Richard C. Adkerson, president, CEO, and chairman of Freeport-McMoRan, Inc., and WWII museum board chairman; and John Hairston, Hancock Holding Company president and CEO.


Joining us for the reception were eight World War II veterans. Their stories are too long to tell in this message; but I can say it was an incredible honor to stand with them. The gentleman standing to my left in the photo below is Bert Stolier, who spent all night in the Pacific Ocean after a torpedo sank his ship, the USS. Northhampton. He later watched General McArthur sign Japan’s surrender aboard the USS Missouri. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Bert and other veterans deflect praise from themselves to those who never made it home. One of the veterans on Wednesday still remembered the names of those with whom he served who didn’t make it home—now more than 70 years later. 


 Honoring our WW II veterans

 Bravery and Humility

 Special guests at a bank-hosted event honoring Legion of Honour recipient Dr. Nick Mueller (second from left) included (from left) Dan Cantor, a proud U.S Marine Corps veteran; Hancock Holding Company President and CEO John Hairston; WWII veteran Bert Stolier, who served on the USS Northhampton and spent several hours in Pacific waters off Guadalcanal after a torpedo sank the ship; and WWII veteran Bob Wolfe, who fought his way across Germany at the end of WWII with the 86th Infantry Division, the Blackhawk Division.


From us to you, have  a safe and happy Memorial Day.