Soldiers do cry.
There were tears aplenty when Nephi turned out to bid goodbye to 57 members of Detachment 1 of Company D of the 1457th Engineer Battalion.Few eyes remained dry when Nephi Elementary students, waving flags, sang, "I'm proud to be an American." Many students were singing for fathers, grandfathers, brothers, cousins or uncles.
The National Guardsmen cried. They knew they were hearing, for the last time for many months, the children sing from their hearts.
The townspeople cried.
The program, dedicated to the soldiers called to serve in Operation Des-ert Storm, drew most residents of Nephi, Mona and Levan to the county building and Main Street, where the traffic had been blocked off to allow the crowd to spill over into the street.
Nephi High School students played in the band, erected huge butcher-paper signs of love and encouragement for the Guard, and made a flag guard for the soldiers to march through.
Mona and Nephi Elementary Students sang and Nephi Middle School Students played in the band.
It was a flag-waving ceremony like small towns of America once had in abundance. There were no anti-war demonstrations. There were no signs of discouragement. The people at the ceremony said goodbye to their soldiers and treated them like heros.
The Juab County clerk's office, headed by Pat Greenwood, hung yellow ribbons and festooned the courthouse with ribbons. The Nephi Lions Club wrapped the light poles, all 180 of them, with red, white and blue stripes with white stars. A group of girls put yellow ribbons below the flags placed by city workers.
Students attended school for half a day and then were bused to the county complex to pay tribute to the soldiers.
"We are proud these guys have the courage to stand up for what's right, the guts to survive, and the commitment to win," said Juab County Sheriff Dave Carter, who was emcee.
The men gave three cheers to Cleston Park, who is unwillingly staying behind. In August Park was promoted and transferred to another unit. As a result, he was not called up with the men, some of whom he had worked with for 41 years.
"This is the worst day of my life," said Park. "It's the worst thing I have ever had to do.
"It's like watching 41 years of your life roll out of town and you have to stay behind. It's not a neat feeling."
Each of the soldiers were called to the top of the steps of the county complex where they were presented with a pin and an original poem.
As the bus made its way between the flags held on either side of the street by Juab High School athletes, the residents cheered the soldiers all the way to the edge of town.