Military and many other types of heroes were in the limelight Friday.
The Utah Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation at Val ley Forge honored thousands of Utah military personnel called to duty because of conflict in the Middle East.And the chapter honored a group of other heroes - those whose talents, skills, abilities and service the public may tend to miss.
"To find today's heroes, you need look no further than the people around you, family members, friends, neighbors, community associates - people whose qualities we tend to overlook. Heroes build on life's challenges to emerge stronger and more capable because of them. A true hero sparks the recognition of the hero within ourselves," said Charone Smith, chairman of the chapter's heroes selection committee, at an awards luncheon in Little America Hotel.
The annual "We Believe in Heroes" luncheon was conducted by chapter president Alma F. Welch and featured stirring patriotic music by the Granite High Madrigals and remarks by Gov. Norm Bangerter.
Special tribute was given during a few minutes of silence to three young Utahns who died in recent weeks in the Middle East. They are Lance Cpl. Dion Stephenson, who was killed Jan. 30 during a battle to recapture the Saudi town of Khafji; Capt. Michael L. Chinburg, who died in an F-16 jetfighter crash in Saudi Arabia; and Sgt. Jeffrey Rollins, who was fatally injured, also in Saudi Arabia, when the truck in which he was riding overturned.
Twenty-five Utah high school studentswho have received scholarships to attend a youth leadership conference at Valley Forge, Pa., were honored.
Also recognized by Chief Master Sgt. Tom Moeglein were three U.S. Air Force personnel at Hill Air Force Base. They are Master Sgt. Daniel A. Lickteig, "senior NCO of the year"; Staff Sgt. Tamara L. Westerman, "non-commissioned officer of the year"; and Airman 1st Class Joseph C. Eygnor,, "airman of the year."
Citations honoring seven other Utahns, including two deceased men, were read by Dick Nourse of KSL-TV.
Ralph M. Broadhead and Wasatch County Deputy Sheriff Blake V. Wright, two Heber City residents, were honored for giving their lives while fighting a raging brush fire that destroyed 50 homes last fall near Midway.
Broadhead, whose wife, Mary, was present to receive his plaque, was cited for "taking risks above and beyond the call of duty . . . for giving his life in a determined effort to save the property of others." Broadhead was a heavy-equipment operator working to build a fire break.
A young father of several children, Wright was honored for "volunteering to help when his skills were needed, for being a public servant in the true sense of the term." His wife, Vanette, and mother, Merle, accepted his plaque.
Shawn Durrant, 19, Harrisville, Weber County, was honored for his courage in climbing a ski lift tower Jan. 29, 1990, and rescuing 5-year-old Angela Bailey, who was dangling 40 feet in the air from a chairlift at Nordic Valley near Ogden.
Durrant was praised for "being prepared, mentally as well as physically . . . for risking his own life to save another and for thinking clearly and quickly in a moment of crisis."
Elvis and June Larson Evans, Granite, Salt Lake County, were honored for "giving so much of themselves to family and community and for being striking examples of the American volunteer spirit."
For 25 years the couple took 23 foster children into their home. Utah State Prison inmates, Salt Lake County Detention Center youths and 600 Edgemont Elementary School children also have benefitted from the couple's service.
Staff Sgt. Steven J. Garner, a Utah Air National Guardsman from West Valley City, was cited for "risking his life to protect the lives of others" and to safeguard equipment in a refueling tanker fire last March 6 in Salt Lake City.
Chen Hai, 26, Orem, was commended for his actions in leading more than 2,000 students struggling for freedom at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in June 1989.
Hai, who spoke through an interpreter and friend, Malan Jackson, seemed to exemplify the feelings of all award recipients and their appreciation for freedom when he responded to the honor.
"I have come from a communist-ruled country, a country where the people do not enjoy freedom and democracy. But I want you to know that the desires of people everywhere are the same. My people want freedom and democracy. I have struggled that they might have it. But I am a vagabond. But I am not alone. My mother is with me. My homeland is not my mother - my mother is truth," Hai said.
Jackson said after the program that Hai, who fled China in fear of his life, eventually plans to return there to continue his leadership for democracy. He said the youth referred to the fact that "truth will eventually triumph in China and that his people will have the blessings that we (Americans) now enjoy."