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TUESDAY, JULY 4, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Celebrate our heroes today

It's easy to overlook the thousands of troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as we celebrate America's birthday today.

We'll spend more time praying the rain doesn't spoil our picnics or that our fireworks won't fizzle than praying that bullets and exploding shells don't rain down on our troops.

So with these unsung heroes in mind, we applaud the Spirit of America Festival committee for not only recognizing great patriots every year, but also for choosing two recipients this year who are as deserving as they are obscure to those who live outside Morgan and Madison counties.

Fame should not be a gauge for how well someone serves his country and community, and the committee proved that in choosing Huntsville's William Hogan for the Audie Murphy Patriotism Award and Morgan County District Judge David Breland for the Barrett Shelton Freedom Award.

Hogan displayed as much courage and gallantry as any previous recipient of the award named for the most decorated soldier of World War II. The former Vietnam helicopter pilot has a chest full of medals, but he chooses not to live on past glories. Instead he spends his retirement ensuring today's soldiers and their families are treated better than he and his comrades were in the 1960s and '70s.

Hogan has helped organize nearly every going-away and welcome-home ceremony for our North Alabama troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Breland, a Decatur native, possesses the talent and desire to be a success in any community, but chose to stay home and make this a better place to live.

He has done so with countless wise decisions behind the bench and with countless hours of volunteer leadership that give at-risk youths a better chance in life.

Today is the perfect day to thank these local heroes and the thousands who are serving our country in dangerous lands.

So fly the red, white and blue over your picnic today, come to Point Mallard, have fun, cheer for your local heroes and thank God that you live in the greatest country in the history of the world.

Also pray for world peace.

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