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Heroes Abroad and Home

It was the summer of 1988. My brother and some of my friends had important choices to make because they had just graduated from high school. Most of them decided to continue their education at a four year college. One of my friends, Jason, decided to join the Air Force. He left for basic training and was gone for what seemed like an eternity.

Initially Jason was stationed inA true hero. RIP Joshua Youmans. You are missed /* Guam and then he requested Ellsworth Air Force Base in the Black Hills. His request was granted and he arrived in South Dakota. He enrolled in some satellite classes in Rapid City and came home most weekends. Everything seemed the same because we would still go fishing, cruise around, watch movies and have fun.

Then it happened; Jason was given two weeks to say goodbye because he was being sent to the war in the Persian Gulf. I can still remember his going away party. It was a normal going away party with smoked carp, mountain oysters, and deer salami. The only difference I noticed was in the way Jason and his parents were acting. Normally, they were full of laughs and jokes. They were still laughing and it looked like they were having fun, but they were not. I could tell there was terror and uncertainty in their thoughts.

To me, Jason and his family became heroes overnight. Jason put himself in danger making a huge sacrifice so all of us would be safe. Jasonís family had to endure the sacrifice with him. They were left on the home front having to worry ever minute of the day not knowing if their son was safe.
Jason went away to war and then part of him returned. His child-like innocence never came back. He had seen and experienced things on the frontline I would never understand. His family and I also changed. We experienced life on the home front worrying and praying, watching the news and cringing every time a United States soldier was killed.
Over the years I have had many friends, family members and students become heroes defending my freedom with their lives. I would like to thank all of the heroes and their families for making the sacrifice of defending the freedom of every United States citizen. Your courage, loyalty and commitment will never be forgotten. History captures your sacrifice in words, pictures, and video. You will always be remembered as defenders of freedom at parades, events and gatherings where the U.S. flag is raised and, most important, you will be remembered as heroes in every American heart.

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