Residents of this small city showed their true colors are red, white and blue at a patriotic rally Monday to support community members serving in Operation Desert Storm.
As evening fell, nearly one-third of Alpine's 3,500 residents gathered on Main Street outside City Hall, where they braved the cold to pay tribute to the 13 Guardsmen and reservists with ties to Alpine on duty in the Persian Gulf.Their message: Although far from home, the men and women in the Persian Gulf are far from forgotten.
Residents waved flags and yellow ribbons throughout the event, which included a flag-raising ceremony, a musical number by Alpine Elementary School pupils and remarks from several special guests.
"We decided we needed to draw together as a community in support of the people serving from Alpine," Mayor Elaine Barnes told the Deseret News.
Alpine is displaying photographs of the two women and 11 men stationed in the Persian Gulf - who include a teacher, who is also the city's volunteer fire chief; a doctor; and a mother - in a protected bulletin board in front of City Hall. Barnes said the pictures, as well as a flag raised during the rally, will remain up until all 13 return home.
Perhaps the most moving comments during the ceremony came from a woman identified as Sherry, whose husband, Gary, is a member of the 120th Quartermaster National Guard Unit that left for Saudi Arabia last August. Family members asked not to be identified for security reasons.
Sherry related that in telephone conversations she's had with her husband she asks "`Are you safe?' and he keeps saying `Where is safe?' He serves proudly," Sherry said. "We're proud of our men and I know the sacrifices are great, but through the support of the community we're making it."
Darlene, whose son, Brian, serves full time with the Air Force, attended the rally Monday; she isn't surprised by the swell of support for soldiers and their families in Alpine, however.
"We've lived here a long time and that's pretty typical of Alpine," Darlene said.
Sen. Craig A. Peterson, R-Orem, commended the efforts of men and women in the Armed Forces.
"None of us want war. All of us want peace," but sometimes maintaining peace requires sacrifices, Peterson said.
"I think it's wonderful that Alpine is doing this," Rep. Don LeBaron, R-Highland, told the crowd. "Maybe this idea will catch on and spread to a lot of other cities."
Maj. Bob Nelson of the Utah National Guard told Alpine residents the war is being fought well by members of their community.
Reserve forces are "a good way to keep a solid defense available to our nation and to our president," Nelson said. He noted that 25 percent of Utah's National Guard force is on active duty as part of Operation Desert Storm, while 20 percent of the state's total reserve force has been activated.
Judy appreciated Alpine's show of support for the troops. Among them is her son, Tom, who is a member of the 2nd radio battalion stationed in North Carolina. Judy received a letter from her son Monday, which he mailed Jan. 12. Enclosed in Judy's letter was a letter for Tom's wife, with instructions for Judy to give it to her if anything happens to Tom.
"I don't believe I'm in any particular danger," Tom wrote. "Although, I know with every fiber of my being my life is in the hands of my God and I know not the mind of the Lord."