The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest award any civilian can receive. And it caps a lifetime of service for G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery.
Sonny Montgomery has been a soldier, a businessman, and a state senator, but he really made his mark during three decades walking the halls of Congress. He's known specifically for his work with the armed forces and with veterans like himself. That lifetime of service was honored by President Bush.
Sonny Montgomery doesn't stand quite as tall as he once did. You could barely see his head over the crowd as he was walked to his spot and seated. But he still commands respect that few men can command, from the most powerful people in the world.
In honoring the former congressman, President Bush praised his forward-looking spirit that helped equip and train the finest fighting force in the world.
"I know from my visits to Mississippi that all you have to do is say the name Sonny Montgomery, and they still cheer," said President Bush. "Folks remember him and love him, and so do our veterans. Sonny, you're a great man and congratulations."
If the President's remarks to Montgomery sounded personal, that's because they probably are. The Bush family, specifically former President Bush, has been close with Montgomery for decades.
Montgomery joined a short list of people being honored Wednesday from all walks of life: soldiers, actors and actresses, athletes, and entertainers, a group the President says are especially deserving of this award.
"All who receive this Medal of Freedom can know that they have a special place in the life of our country, and have earned the respect and affection of the American people," said President Bush.
President Bush's words certainly describe Montgomery, a man whose name is on so many buildings in this area, that he's jokingly told his successor in congress, Chip Pickering, there won't be any left for him.