Editor's Note: This is our 6,000th Blog entry on the War on Terror.
By Army Spc. William E. Henry
Special to American Forces Press Service
Feb. 2, 2009 - The Hoosier State welcomed home its National Guardsmen who have deployed around the globe during a tribute at Lucas Oil Stadium here Jan. 31. Thousands of loved ones, friends and fellow Indiana residents, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, paid tribute to more than 4,500 soldiers and airmen who had deployed overseas from Guard units across the state.
"I love the whole idea. They deserve the recognition for what they've done," said Stephanie Simcox, wife of Army Spc. Stephen Simcox with the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Company E, 113th Support Battalion. "He's a hero. They all are heroes."
To start the event, a parade of troops marched around the stadium, bearing their unit guidons.
"It was an awesome idea to recognize us and to know we're appreciated," Air Force Staff Sgt. Mark Selby, 122nd Fighter Wing, said. "I'm very proud to have served our country, and it's great when people shake your hand and appreciate you when you come home."
Musical performances by Darrin Isaac, son of Army Sgt. Maj. Charles Isaac, as well as Michael Peterson and the 38th Infantry Division Band also highlighted the celebration.
Linton, Ind., Mayor Tom Jones spoke of how proud Indiana communities are of their servicemembers and their families' sacrifices, especially those who died while deployed. Linton is the smallest Indiana town affected by the deployments. "We pay homage to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice," Jones said.
Army Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Indiana's adjutant general, noted that being a servicemember is being a part of something bigger than one's self. "We are most proud of the differences we are making in our state, nation and around the world," he said.
(Army Spc. William E. Henry serves with the Indiana National Guard.)