Our Soldiers And Why They Serve

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JOHN HOWARD

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John Howard

Veterans Day, 2004 -- Christina L.Turner of Pine makes no secret of her pride in the military. Her letterhead says it all "Proud American -- Former Army -- Wife of Former Marine -- Loving Sister of a Marine."

Turner sent the Roundup the following letter earlier this week:

I am overwhelmingly compelled to share "My View," in response to the article you shared, "Tell us about our soldiers and why they serve."

On Oct. 8, 2004, my "not so" baby brother, John Howard, graduated, one of the few, one of the proud, a Marine.

I'm 11 years older than John. I've had the privilege of watching him grow into the young man he is today.

My brother graduated from Payson High School with honors. His whole life he has strived for academic excellence and possessed a commendable personal character. This is a young man who had several positive, rewarding roads he could have followed after high school.

Having intensely immense pride and love for his country, community and family, John willingly took an oath to honorably protect our freedoms, homes and lives. The decision to follow this road was not taken lightly. He knew in doing so that he would be going to war and could ultimately give his life.

All this aside, he still chose to enlist.

To really understand how strongly my brother feels about his allegiance to his country and all it stands for, the lyrics of "Live for This," by the hardcore metal group, HateBreed, put his feelings into words. This song is, and will always be, his favorite. John "lives" for us, America.

Live for this, live, live.

If you don't live for something, you'll die for nothing.

Through the best and the worst

The struggle and sacrifice.

For the true who've remained and the new blood.

Motivation, undying allegiance

Striving through the hardships and affliction.

Every drop of blood

Every bitter tear

Every bead of sweat

I live for this

Live for this, Live, Live

If you don't live for something you'll die for nothing.

What we have are not possessions we own

It's not weighed by greed or personal gain

This is a real desire for freedom.

A place apart from a world in abandon.

During his 10 days home, after graduation, there were a few people in our communities (Payson, Pine and Strawberry) who commended John on becoming a Marine.

Unfortunately there were even more people in our communities who chose to make "mean-spirited statements" to my Marine.

It deeply saddened me and hurt John that people in our community could be so rude. They should thank him for choosing to defend the very freedom that allows them to be so "un-American."

I'd like to thank the Roundup and everyone who supports our local soldiers and troops worldwide. My children, my husband, and I sleep peacefully with the knowledge that there are so many men and women eager to stand post and guard over our very being. For this take with you the knowledge of my endless love and immeasurable gratitude to the past, present and future soldiers.

ARIZONA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD CAMP NAVAJO BRIGADE

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Arizona Army National Guard Camp Navajo Brigade

Audrey Blalock of Payson recently had the opportunity to see a different side of the military and it moved her deeply. While not exactly in response to the Roundup's request for information about Rim country soldiers, Blalock shared her experience as an observer of the Arizona Army National Guard Dining-out tradition:

Recently, the Arizona Army National Guard Camp Navajo Brigade held its annual Dining-out event in Flagstaff.

It was a time to reflect on the country, state and spirit of peace. The Dining-out experience is a military tradition of honor and remembrance, also recognizing the vast contributions spouses, family members and guests make to their units and the Army National Guard.

The Dining-out is symbolic in its tradition. The soldier's tribute recognizes those members of the military who are missing in action or prisoners of war, and brothers who cannot be there. They are remembered at the Dining-out near the head of the table, a place of honor set for one.

The table set for one is small, symbolizing the frailty of one soldier, alone against the oppressor. The tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call to arms. A single rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the families and loved ones or our comrades-in-arms who kept the faith awaiting their return. Some will never return.

While there are many symbols in the soldier's tribute, these are the symbols that greatly touched my heart. With the situation currently in Iraq, I believe it is important to recognize our military in every aspect. There are those who are risking their lives on a daily basis so that we can all be secure and experience true democracy.

The Dining-out evening gave me the privilege of meeting some of the most respectable men and women in the Arizona Army National Guard. Our former mayor, Lt. Col. Ken Murphy, and his wife, Julie, were one of the couples present. Seeing Murphy in his uniform illustrated maturity and pride.

I found this to be true with the many men and women I met that evening. They all carried a sense of brotherhood and shared a common bond. Most incredibly was the way that I was treated with such great respect. It was very rewarding.

The Dining-out experience was awesome, pleasant and above all, I have a new admiration for our military personnel. We should all be proud of the men and women who are serving our country and remember who and why they are serving.

I will never forget the experience I had Dining-out.

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