Our view: Honor hometown heroes
If we learned one thing from the Cory Hixson story, it’s that our fighting men and women don’t expect to be patronized upon their return home.
Even though he lost an eye fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, the Craig native wishes he were still on the battlefield. That’s because his “boys” are still over there fighting without him.
Hixson remains incredibly upbeat despite the devastating injury. He has not complained once publicly about his rotten luck, perhaps because he knows that in the big scheme of things, he’s fortunate to still be alive.
We are proud of Cory Hixson for his dedication to the military and for showing more concern for those still fighting than he does for himself. His selflessness is just one example of what we’ve come to expect from our hometown heroes.
With our nation still at war and the fighting with Iraqi insurgents intensifying in recent week, it’s natural to celebrate the safe return of a local serviceman. But local veterans organizations caution against singling anybody out for praise. On Veterans Day they took pains not to put Hixson on a pedestal, lest it distract from those who still are in harm’s way or the multitudes of others who have made sacrifices and survived battlefield injuries in previous wars.
“Veterans Day is mostly a reminder that freedom has never been cheap and it’s really just to show respect,” said Leafner Tan, an Army recruiter stationed in Craig.
We’re impressed that Moffat County residents respect Veterans Day for what it is. Locally, our community acknowledges that our veterans have contributed something directly to the freedoms we enjoy — perhaps because they see our veterans continually in parades and ceremonies.
There’s not the anonymous observance of a holiday that, in bigger cities, seems to focus more on linen sales.
To the soldiers who have put their lives on the line, Veterans Day isn’t supposed to be about shopping bargains.
Veterans Day happens only once a year. And we can quickly forget about our servicemen and women as we head into the holiday season.
Fortunately, there’s a group in Grand Junction expressly dedicated to aiding and comforting Western Slope military personnel, wherever they may be stationed. It’s called Homefront Heroes and the group collects and ships care packages worldwide, even stateside.
That’s because the founders see all military personnel as one big unit.
The soldiers, sailors and airmen in noncombat positions are supporting those on the front lines. So Homefront Heroes makes sure no one gets overlooked when they send out packages.
Homefront Heroes’ Quality of Life Program entails sending packages to troops, including such requested items as toilet paper, lotion, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, batteries, sunscreen, mousetraps, female hygiene products, yo-yos, footballs, puzzles, etc.
The group always is looking for help — whether it’s from schools, churches, nursing homes and other groups who want to adopt a soldier — or cash donations to cover the costs of shipping packages.
It costs $1,500 to $2,000 to mail the packages. Homefront Heroes tries to include enough items to supply a Western Slope soldier and his unit, “so 10 to 15 troops get touched with every package,” said Phyllis Derby, founder.
Homefront Heroes give us the opportunity to show our appreciation for our troops when they need it most.
It would be shame for soldiers to have to wait for a homecoming celebration to know the folks back home are thinking of them.
To find out more about Homefront Heroes, call Derby at 523-5438 or 270-1018, or visit the Web site http://www.militarysupportgroup.com/pages/1/index.htm.
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Next week, Colorado Northwestern Community College and Moffat County are hosting a free day-long seminar for local ranchers and agriculture producers.