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SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns have a strong tradition of military service and a keen sense of patriotism, and both were on prominent display Saturday as the governor honored all the soldiers and airmen in Utah's National Guard on the University of Utah campus.
In his role as Utah's military commander in chief, Gov. Gary Herbert recognized the 7,000 men and women who serve in the state armed forces units during an event at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"On behalf of the state of Utah and its 2.8 million-plus people, I want to thank each and every one of you for your sacrifice, for your service to our state and to our great nation," Herbert said in an address to troops assembled on the field of the stadium.
He also acknowledged the sacrifice of Utah's military families, saying that as a former member of the National Guard himself, he understands the importance of family support to soldiers and airmen.
The sentiment resonated with Rebecca Trump, a mother of four from Heber and wife of 1st Sgt. Jeremy Trump with the 169th Intelligence Squadron. Trump said during her spouse's deployments to Iraq, her family struggled initially to cope with his being away.
"It's definitely frustrating at the beginning, but by the time he comes home, I'm in my own rhythm," she said.
Sgt. Trump is expected to deploy again, the next time to Afghanistan, she said.
"The emotional state is the hardest," she said. "Just preparing our kids … and to keep myself strong for my kids is the hardest (thing to deal with) because when we have a breakdown, our spouse isn't there to support us."
Sgt. Trump said soldiers like him are especially grateful for the strength and support of family while they are away. Knowing the kids are in good hands is very comforting, he said. On the other hand, being unable to be there for his family is an added stress compounded by being in an active military environment.
Sgt. Trump said he has gained a greater appreciation for the American way of life since serving in the Middle East. He said Americans all should be aware of how lucky they are to live in such a great and peaceful country.
"I wish every single (U.S.) citizen at some point … could see what it was like in (a worn-torn country)," he explained. "Their problems are (wondering) if they're going to get their house blown up every single day, not that (their) lawn isn't so green. (We shouldn't) take that stuff for granted."