Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Soldiers celebrate America's independence in Kosovo

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo (Army News Service, July 5, 2006) --Soldiers from the Texas National Guard's 36th Infantry Division and Multi-National Task Force (East) marked America's 230th year of independence during a July 4 ceremony on the Camp Bondsteel parade field.

Brig. Gen. Darren Owens, commanding general of MNTF(E), spoke about America's struggle for independence.

"We as Americans can proudly say the Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, gave birth to the ideals of freedom that others in the world only dream about," Owens said. "We are free to love, worship and live as we want -- but freedom does have a price. Our service here in Kosovo is part of that price."

"We should pause and remember that those symbols of our power and freedom are reflected in your actions everyday as you brave men and women in uniform sacrifice being with your families and, if need be, even your lives in preserving liberty," Owens said.

The Soldiers are more than halfway through a yearlong NATO peace enforcement mission in the Balkans. The Soldiers and visitors enjoyed the rush of the final flyover by three Blackhawk and two Apache helicopters from MNTF(E)'s Task Force Talon.

"I felt the importance of the ceremony -- the weight of it (the deployment) for the first time with the appearance of the President and Prime Minister of Kosovo (being here). It really makes me feel appreciated," said Sgt. Levi Frost, helicopter mechanic.

"Today we not only honor the independence of the United States, we honor your service, your courage and countless sacrifices in this distant land far from home," Owens said. "I do not view the work that KFOR does here as just preserving the peace for a safe Kosovo. I view it in a nobler, more exalted light; I view the great work we do here as part of laying the cornerstone of liberty for generations yet to come. Through your service and sacrifice, you help make every day Independence Day for the United States of America."

(Editor's note: Sgt. Matthew Chlosta writes for the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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