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Matheson thanks vets at Murray celebration

MURRAY — Representative Jim Matheson, D-Utah, said his job in Congress has given him the emotional experience of shaking the hands and looking into the eyes of citizen soldiers who are going off to war.

"They do not complain," Matheson said. "They march steadfastly towards danger, and they are so young."

With a backdrop of 588 American Flags, Matheson addressed a crowd of local residents and veterans during a Murray Veterans Day Celebration on Friday, Nov. 11 at Murray Park.

The celebration started after a Veterans Day parade marched along Murray's State Street.

Matheson told audience members at the celebration to never take freedom for granted. He said that by honoring veterans, citizens and leaders are reminded to avoid future mistakes that may put others in harm's way.

"I believe we can never say, 'Thank you' enough to the men and women who don our country's uniforms and service ideals so valiantly," Matheson said.

Murray Mayor Daniel C. Snarr told veterans in attendance that they will always have a home in Murray.

"As a the mayor, I have always felt that the veterans should be recognized and appreciated for all the good that they've done because the freedoms we enjoy are because of the service of the veterans," Snarr said.

Snarr said every American should stand up and recognize how important the service of those who have dedicated their lives is to the preservation of our freedoms.

Maj. Gen. Peter S. Cooke said Veterans Day is a time to remember every man and woman who has taken up arms for their country.

"We are Americans and we're proud of our veterans," Cooke said. "They have stood for courage and honor and truth and dedication. America has needed these qualities in every generation, and especially today and every generation has stepped up to provide them."

The ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps. Then 12 veterans set the last dozen American flags in the field to make the number 600, and the 96th regional command band played, "You'll Never Walk Alone."

The 600 American flags that stood in the outfield of the Murray Softball Field, located on the south east side of Murray Park, were in a healing field designed to remember veterans from six conflicts.

White signs listed the conflicts and casualties — 2,305 U.S. casualties from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, 293 from Desert Shield Desert Storm, 58,178 from Vietnam, 54,246 from Korea, 405,399 from World War II, and 118,518 from World War I were represented.

Lori Oakason, national director of the Healing Fields foundation, said listing the six conflicts is a great way to honor all veterans.

"This is a great way to apply it for everybody if you have a small field," Oakason said.

The Healing Field Foundation, based in Sandy, helps cities across the nation set up their own healing fields. Oakason said there's something about the American flag that provokes living emotion and a sense of pride.

The first healing field was set up after Sept. 11.

"The terrorists thought they could change America that day and they did," Oakason said, adding that foundation has helped set up 43 fields nationwide.