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TIME Person of the Year for 2003: The American Soldier

Written by  December 31, 2003

United States fighters swept across Iraq and conquered it in 21 days. They stand guard on streets potholed with skepticism and animosity. They caught Saddam Hussein. They are the face of America, its might and goodwill, in a region unfamiliar with democracy. These are just a few lines out of TIME magazine; an essay written by Nancy Gibbs.

TIME magazine has nominated the Soldier, as Person of the Year, a recognition not seen since 1950. It is quite an honor, and duly so, that our American fighting men and women are proudly singled out within our nation. These soldiers, our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and friends have and are still paying a heavy price for our country’s freedom, which many citizens take for granted. Our nation’s democracy was born and retained only through the sacrifices made by our armed forces, past and present.

I won’t provide a history lesson on the U.S. military’s role in the safe keeping of our democracy, but I will share with you just a few thoughts. When TIME magazine speaks of the soldier, their reference is to all branches of the military: Army - soldier, Air Force - airman, Navy and Coast Guard - seaman, and Marines - (I’ll be kind). All service branches make up the U.S. Armed Forces and in today’s warfare, they depend upon one another to complete missions and keep this country safe.

I sincerely hope that all U.S. citizens realize that this prestigious TIME recognition of these modern day warriors was made possible through the experiences and sacrifices of our past veterans. This is not meant to take anything away from these fine young men and women, but to provoke a deeper interest into what it took to get them as combat ready as they are today. A key lesson the military learned is that they could only become better through learning from their mistakes and building on successes. With TIME's recognition of the vast capabilities our soldiers possess, I think it is fair to say our military has matured past basic war fighting skills. As now, our soldiers must be warriors, peace keepers, policeman, care providers and politicians.

This recognition and level of preparedness will become meaningless if we don’t stay informed on all military, budgetary and personnel strength issues and concerns. Our involvement and support will ensure their future readiness, as their strength will be our children’s and grand-children’s security. We must remind ourselves, that the war in Iraq is only one spot in time; anti-Americanism, terrorism and wars will never be strangers to our nation.

I ask that all of you search deep within yourselves, whether you served in the military or not, and support our soldiers. This support is not just for those serving in the combat war zone today, but those standing by, ready to go when called upon to do so. Remind yourself each day, that your freedom to walk your walk and talk your talk, and yes - to ride, has been bought with many soldiers’ lives and countless injuries; the payment still continues.

I recommend that you pick up a copy of this issue of TIME magazine and read the many articles about our soldiers and their activities around the world. Also, buy a few extra copies and send them to those you know who are serving our nation. Don’t forget to enclose a few words of encouragement on page 32, because I’m sure they will appreciate it. If you want to catch some of the story’s highlights, go to TIME’s web site.

The 1950 TIME, Person of the Year: The Soldier recognition issue cover story is also on TIME’s web site.
This cover story gives you a sense of what was happening then to individual soldiers and how they thought about the war. Take ten minutes and read about our fathers’ and grand-fathers’ war experiences, then give them a call and thank them.

I would also like to share with you how Harley-Davidson recently recognized a few American Soldiers. I will provide the opening of the story, followed by the link to Power Sports Network, so you can finish reading the rest of the article, which is worth while reading!

An American Legend Honors American Heroes: Harley-Davidson’s Inaugural 2003 Genuine Hero Award for dedication and military service to the United States.

November 25, 2003

Milwaukee, WI - Greg Robillard, Phillip Frasher and Roger Kasper have never met each other, but do have a couple of things in common. They each have distinguished themselves honorably by serving their country in the military, and they share a passion and enthusiasm for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

These admirable traits earned the trio distinction in Harley-Davidson’s Inaugural 2003 Genuine Hero Award for dedication and military service to the United States. Veterans, or their family and friends were asked to write a short description of how someone they know has made a positive impact on our country or their community through such characteristics as patriotism, citizenship, wartime heroism or community service.
Harley-Davidson selected Greg Robillard, 52, from Chico, California, as its Genuine Hero Award winner. Robillard will receive a $1,000 prize package in Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts and Accessories. Phillip Frasher, 54, from Welch, West Virginia, was selected as the second place winner and recipient of a $500 Harley-Davidson Genuine P&A prize package. Roger Kasper, 52, from Sobieski, Wisconsin, was chosen as the third place winner and recipient of a $250 Harley-Davidson Genuine P&A prize package.

Greg Robillard
In the eyes of 13-year-old Cody Thompson, he needs to look no farther than his grandfather, Greg, to find a true hero. In nominating his grandfather, Cody wrote, “I feel my grandfather has both served his country and community with honor. Possibly the most important tribute my grandfather has done is treat me as he would his own son and make me feel that I am a very special person.”

To read the rest of the article, follow this link: Power Sports Network.

Bart

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