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story.lead_photo.caption State Attorneys General Pam Bondi (left) of Florida and Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas speak Friday after watching the president sign the American Law Enforcement Heroes Act and the Public Safety Officers Benefits Improvement Act. The heroes act provides federal grants to hire and train veterans for law enforcement positions. The benefits act facilitates processing of public safety officers’ death, disability and educational assistance claims, according to Rutledge.

Hill in France, visits grave of Arkansan

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. French Hill traveled to Normandy American Cemetery in France, spoke at Monday's Memorial Day service and placed a floral wreath at the grave of an Arkansan who is buried there.

The 172.5-acre site, roughly 175 miles northwest of Paris, is the final resting place for 9,387 Americans.

It overlooks Omaha Beach, one of the landing sites on D-Day: June 6, 1944.

Addressing the crowd, the Republican from Little Rock stressed "the magnitude of sacrifice," noting that 104,000 Americans died on foreign soil and were laid to rest at 21 cemeteries spread across Europe.

One of them was Pfc. Gene Sellers, a University of Arkansas student who dropped out of school so he could enlist in the 101st Airborne.

Early on June 6, 1944, Sellers was sent behind enemy lines to help "set up drop zone lights and radar to guide the arriving C-47s filled with paratroopers," Hill said. "Like many other paratroopers that day, Private Sellers' drop did not go as planned, and he was killed after his parachute drifted too close to a group of German soldiers. He would be the first of more than 4,000 Allied soldiers to make the ultimate sacrifice on that decisive day."

The bravery of Sellers and the rest of the Allied forces who defeated the Nazis should never be forgotten, Hill added.

Womack on hand for West Point rite

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack spent the start of his Memorial Day weekend at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., meeting with Arkansans and attending the school's graduation.

The Republican from Rogers had lunch Friday with a group of cadets from the Natural State. He also visited with this year's commencement speaker: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis.

The ceremony took place Saturday.

Womack is chairman of the academy's board of visitors, a committee that monitors West Point's "morale and discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters."

Before he was elected to Congress, Womack served 30 years in the Arkansas Army National Guard, retiring as a colonel in 2009.

Last Sunday, Womack attended the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, serving as master of ceremonies for a reception that followed the nationally televised performance.

Miss America rides with Lions on float

Miss America Savannah Janine "Savvy" Shields appeared in Monday's Memorial Day Parade in Washington, riding on a float with members of the Lions Club International.

Wearing a royal-blue dress and an imposing tiara, she was joined by more than two dozen people wearing yellow "Lions Club" T-shirts, including two past international presidents.

Signs on the float said: "New Mountains to Climb" and "Where There's a Need There's A Lion."

Thousands of spectators lined the parade route, which stretched along Constitution Avenue.

The international service organization, which was founded by Chicago businessman Melvin Jones, will celebrate its 100th birthday Wednesday.

Arkansans in D.C elect club's officers

The Arkansas State Society, a social club for Arkansans in the U.S. capital, has elected new officers, according to President Sarah Hudson. They include Vice President Sarah Beth Cloar (Springdale); secretary Leah Hirsch (Springdale); treasurer Megan McCafferty (Pine Bluff); special events director Shawna Blair (Little Rock); membership development director Brandon Spicher (Hot Springs); social and external relations director Jordan Craig (Conway); advisory circle director Beau Walker (Rogers); sponsorships and fundraising director Regina Hopper (Springdale); and social media and public relations director Brad Howard (Van Buren).

The society has been part of the capital social scene for a century or more. Anyone with a soft spot for the Natural State is welcome to join, organizers said.

State's 2011 speller lends hand at bee

Jacob Elser, the state's top speller in 2011, was in National Harbor, Md., last week for the national spelling bee. Six years after representing the Natural State at the competition, he was given a spot on the tournament's college crew.

College crew members "do everything from packing and unpacking boxes, to hosting Bee Week events, to answering questions from spellers and their family members," organizers say.

Originally from Fayetteville, Elser is now a student at Notre Dame University.

The spelling bee has changed since Elser competed, he said. A vocabulary test has been added and some of the rules have been tweaked.

But there's still a fair amount of stress, he said. "It's really nerve-racking at first. ... But once you get into it, it's just really exciting."

Cotton at meeting of global influential

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., traveled to Chantilly, Va., for the annual Bilderberg meeting of international leaders. The meeting began Wednesday and is to conclude today.

First held in 1954 at the Bilderberg Hotel in the Netherlands, the yearly forum is designed to "foster dialogue between Europe and North America," the group's website states.

This year's guests included national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, former World Bank President Robert Zoellick, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

Among the topics on the agenda: "Russia in the International Order," "Why is Populism Growing?" "Can Globalization Be Slowed?" "Trans-Atlantic Relations: Options and Scenarios" and "The Trump Administration: A Progress Report."

Planning to visit the nation's capital? Know something happening in Washington, D.C.? Please contact Frank Lockwood at (202) 662-7690 or flockwood@arkansasonline.com. Want the latest from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Washington bureau? It's available on Twitter, @LockwoodFrank.

SundayMonday on 06/04/2017

Print Headline: In D.C., Arkansans elect club's officers in D.C. pick officers Hill in France, visits grave of Arkansan Womack on hand for West Point rite Miss America rides with Lions on float D.C. Arkansas club...

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