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Soldiers deserve our deepest respect

Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don’t just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home.

For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.

The President of the United States, George W. Bush, said the following in his powerful State of the Union address on Jan 31.

Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices – and showing a sense of duty stronger than all fear.

They know what it’s like to fight house-to-house in a maze of streets, to wear heavy gear in the desert heat, to see a comrade killed by a roadside bomb.

And those who know the costs also know the stakes.

Marine Staff Sgt. Dan Clay was killed last month fighting in Fallujah.

He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American.

Here is what Dan wrote:

“I know what honor is

… It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to….

Never falter! Don’t hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting.”

It breaks my heart and it brings me to tears when I turn on the evening news to find out an American soldier has been killed to protect my freedom.

I want to take a moment and remember the soldiers from the great state of Alabama who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country in the war in Iraq.

Pvt. Justin R. Yoemans – Eufaula

Pfc. John E. Brown

– Troy

Spc. Charles G. Haight

– Jacksonville

Spc. Stephen D. Hiller

– Opelika

CWO Phillip A. Johnson Jr.

Sgt. Timothy M. Conneway – Enterprise

Spc. Cedric Lennon

– West Blockton

Spc. Christopher M. Taylor – Daphne

Spc. Andrew F. Chris – Florence

CWO Brian D. Hazelgrove – Ft. Rucker

Pfc Howard Johnson – Mobile

Capt. Robert Scheetz Jr. – Dothan

Sgt Jason Jordan – Elba

Spc. Ahmed Cason – McCalla

Staff Sgt. Robert C. Thornton Jr. – Rainbow City

SFC Christopher R. Willoughby – Phenix City

Pvt. Kelley S. Prewitt – Birmingham

Spc. Paul J. Bueche – Daphne

Sgt Aubrey D. Bell – Tuskegee

No casualties

Air Force

Tech Sgt. Bruce E. Brown – Coatopa

Marine Corps

Lance Cpl. John T. Sims Jr.

– Alexander City

Lance Cpl. Bradley M. Faircloth – Mobile

CWO Robert William Channel Jr. – Tuscaloosa

These men will never see another sunrise. They will have another warm embrace from the girlfriend or wife they left behind. They will never again experience the freedoms that we have as Americans.

But these men will always have my deepest gratitude and utmost respect because they died for me.

May God Bless each soldier who serves in our armed forces and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

– Marshall Murphy is the pastor of First Christian Church in Demopolis. He can be reached at the church office at (334) 289-3615 or feel free to look at the church website at www.fccdemopolis.org