Saying thanks the best way we know how

Luziano Reyna missed his daughter’s birth because he was working. Last month, he missed her graduation from Clovis High School. Again, he was working. He was working for us.
Reyna, from Hereford, Texas, has served 20 years in the United States Air Force. He spent the last six months deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Welcome back, Luziano.
And thanks. Thanks to you and all those in uniform who served with you.
On Saturday, in a more public way, our region will say thanks with a parade and a party to honor the Cannon Air Force Base troops who went to war with Iraq and who are protecting us elsewhere. Events begin at 1 p.m. with a parade down Clovis’ Main Street from Grand Avenue to Greene Acres Park, where celebrations and entertainment continue until 7 p.m.
“Salute to Our Troops: A Homecoming Celebration” gives us a chance to show we appreciate the sacrifice made by Reyna and about 900 other personnel from Cannon who began deploying around Thanksgiving.
Americans’ support for U.S. involvement in the war varied from unwavering conviction to questions about whether it was the right thing to do. But the support for our warriors never wavered for most of us no matter how we felt about the fight. That will be evident, and will be heard loudly and proudly on Saturday.
Today’s newspaper includes a special section we call “Homecoming: Celebrating Cannon’s contribution to freedom.” It includes 52 pages and more than a dozen stories and numerous photos about real-life heroes who have made tremendous sacrifices in the past six months, which includes the families.
Cannon’s base newspaper, the Mach Meter, recently provided an additional example of the troops’ dedication in Master Sgt. Reyna, an electrician with the 27th Civil Engineer Squadron. A story written by Capt. Cristina Oxtra focused on Reyna’s recent reunion with his family:
“Although he has missed a number of his children’s milestones, he said it has been worth it. He plans to stay in the Air Force for several more years and said if he was given the opportunity to do this deployment all over again, he would do it.”
“We did our job,” Reyna told Oxtra, “we were able to get an evil regime out and made it safe for people around the world. After 20 years, this is one of the shining moments of my career. I’m proud to be a part of this.”
But, as Oxtra reported, Reyna’s family paid a price in connection with his service: He was out of the state on an exercise when his daughter was born and he has been deployed seven times, including during the first Gulf War.
Reyna’s wife Sonia told the Mach Meter she needed a strong faith while her husband was gone this time. “I just asked God to help me out,” she said. “It’s hard to cope. I took it day by day. For me, praying helped.”
Still not home, Cannon officials said, are some 300 troops. They are still in the Gulf region and daily news reports tell us the area remains unstable and dangerous for Americans and others.
We all should continue to pray for their safe return.
Meanwhile, Saturday is a time for celebration and thanks to our military family members, including Luziano Reyna and others whose stories are told in today’s special report, among them Christina Hopper, Michael Amado, Chad Martin and Edzel Mangahas.
See you at the parade and in the park.