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AMERICAN SOLDIER - October 19, 2006

Todd is home after a year’s service in Co. C, 505th Engineer Battalion, Combat Heavy, of North Carolina National Guard.

I attended the Welcome Home Ceremony for Operation Iraqi Freedom IV and was proud to have the privilege of thanking these soldiers for their part in defending our nation. It is easy to become so involved in day-to-day living and forget the sacrifices that are made for us.

The song, “American Soldier,” by Toby Keith, was part of the ceremony:

“I don’t do it for money, there’s bills that I can’t pay

I don’t do it for the glory, I just do it anyway

Providing for our future is my responsibility

Yeah, I’m real good under pressure, being all that I can be. . .   I just work straight through the holidays

And sometimes all night long . . .

Hey, I’m solid, hey I’m steady, hey I’m true down to the core

And I will always do my duty no matter what the price

I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice

Oh, and I don’t want to die for you

But if dyin’s asked of me

I’ll bear that cross with honor

‘Cause freedom don’t come free

Beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take a stand

When liberty’s in jeopardy I will always do what’s right

I’m out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight

I’m an American soldier.”

The invocation praised God for the safe return of all soldiers. There were no fatalities, although they were under heavy fire many times during their deployment. Every soldier performed superbly and came home because leaders made good decisions and each person showed concern for their comrades. God was with them at all times.

This is an army of men accustomed to hard work in civilian life. Preparing for the worst is second nature for them. They know the logistics of making things work. They were willing to put on the uniform to preserve our freedom. The group was made up of both men and women in the age range of 18 to 55. The main reason for joining the Guard was a strong feeling of wanting to preserve our American freedom and combat the general threat of terrorism. Secondary reasons were financial benefits and educational opportunities.

Citizen soldiers have been defending our country since its founding in 1776, but there has never been an enemy before with such disregard for humanity. Today’s war on terror calls us all to be ready.

The company flag was presented to a member of the North Carolina legislature, to be flown over the State House in Charlotte.

The song, “Proud to be an American,” by Lee Greenwood, completed the program, as military personnel stood at the appropriate time:

“I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.

And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.

’Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God bless the U.S.A.”

The audience also stood behind them to show their gratitude for taking a year out of their lives to protect us. We must keep praying that the conflict will be over soon and all of our service people will be returning to their families.

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