A Homecoming We Should Enjoy, But with Humility
When an important event is about to happen, it is hard to know whether to write about it before hand or afterward. Much of the time I try to write about both, but often space and time constrictions don't allow that. However, on May 8, there is truly a community event happening; a parade for the veterans of the present day Iraq War, that I must tell everyone about.
The idea of the event began, of course, as a celebration for those who have served for the last 15 months in an active capacity with the 1457th Engineers of the Utah National Guard. Some came home this past weekend, others are coming home later this week. Since they are not coming home in one group, the county's officials have decided to celebrate the troops homecoming with a parade that will begin near the wide spot in the road up Price Canyon near the defunct Willow Creek Mine at 10 a.m. on Saturday and will travel down the canyon, through Helper's Main Street at about 11 a.m. and then onto Price's Main Street as it travels to the National Guard Armory.
But as the planners reviewed the idea, they realized that despite the large hole that has been created in the community with the absence of those in the unit that was away over seas, there is another hole we sometimes forget about unless we are right next to it; other veterans of the Iraq War from the regular military services, the reserves and those in the community that might belong to other guard units that have served time in this conflict.
So that 10 a.m. meeting up the canyon will not only be for personnel from the 1457th, but for any local veterans of the present Iraq War, who have returned, are at home on leave or are now even out of the service.
But as the community celebrates these brave servicemen and women's return, we need to also feel a great deal of humility. Many small communities in this country have suffered greatly during this war, losing one young person after another to the wars ravages. We have been lucky; no one from our area has been lost at this point.
Since the 1457ths departure in February of last year, I have thought about these guys and others every day, wondering about their lives and circumstances as well as their fears and adversities. During that time I frequently met family members whose concern showed on their faces almost constantly while they covered it with brave smiles, knowing full well that a military vehicle could roll up in front of their homes at any time carrying the bad news that the Western Union messenger used to deliver during World War II.
During the past year a few of the soldiers that got to come home on leave came by my office to see me as well. I've got to say, by the individuals I met, we couldn't have sent better representatives of our county or of our country to win the hearts and minds of a people who have known only tyranny for over the last three decades.
I have also met many people in the community who have various views of the present conflict. But despite the division the conflict seems to be causing in our society politically, the welcome for these soldiers who have served so well, should be complete and unmitigated. It is my hope that the entire community will turn out on the route of the parade, waving as many flags as we can find, and tying yellow ribbons around anything we can find, so that we can tell any of the soldiers, sailors, marines or airmen that may be riding in the parade that we love and admire them.
And at the same time we can give thanks that they have all come home safely.