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The City Journals

‘A time of gratitude and reflection’ - City honors veterans with ceremony and Field of Flags

Nov 29, 2021 11:08AM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

Keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Darwin Craig addressed the crowd in front of the Field of Flags set up at Draper Park for Veterans Day. (Mimi Darley Dutton/City Journals)

By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]

“It’s always overwhelming to see the amount of support we have for veterans,” said City Councilmember Mike Green at Draper’s Veterans Day ceremony. At age 16, Green first learned about army special forces from a friend who was a Green Beret. That friend shared the slogan “To free the oppressed” with the then-16-year-old, and that notion inspired Green to join the Utah National Guard nearly two decades ago. 

Councilmember Green was 18 when the Persian Gulf War began and he deployed to Afghanistan in 2003. He’s now a Special Deputy District Attorney for Salt Lake County and he also serves as an attorney for Green Berets through his license to practice with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. 

Green attributes the relationships he built with other service members as key to getting through the difficulties of war. “The relationships you make are the real gift of service.” 

Green said when he was first deployed “there was a lot of anxiety, apprehension and unknown” but that several Vietnam veterans serving alongside him offered what he called “a calming presence.” Green said those veterans told him, as a newly deployed service member, “I’ve been there and I’ll help you along the way.” 

Green finished his speech with a quote by George Washington stating the need to make sure everyone is appreciated for their service so that young people are inclined to serve going into the future.

Mayor Troy Walker then introduced keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Darwin Craig. “I’m always struck by the quality of individuals (those who serve) are,” Walker said. 

The Brigadier General began by noting that people had gathered on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month for “a time of gratitude and reflection.” He also made note of the field of 1,200 flags placed at Draper Park by city staff and volunteers.

“It’s nice to commemorate together, to meet and be able to shake someone’s hand (after Covid). When someone looks you in the eye, you feel that appreciation,” he said.

Craig had met and visited with a Vietnam veteran the day prior to Draper’s ceremony. “I want to say to Vietnam veterans who never did have that welcome they deserved, welcome home.” He also noted that many veterans and active-duty members live in Draper because the Utah National Guard is headquartered here.

Craig spoke of the creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1921, representing many soldiers buried far from home after they’d lost their lives in wars on foreign soil. And he recounted the events of Sept. 11, 2001, a day when he got into the cockpit of a plane in defense of our country. “War had come to the shores of the U.S. once again. I realized we had the might, resolve and military power to win the fight,” Craig said. 

The Rise-Up children’s choir sang the national anthem, “God Bless America” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” The ceremony concluded with bugler and Capt. Rebecca Doucette, a resident of Draper, playing “Taps” as the Field of Flags waved in the wind and the people gathered listened reverently, reflecting on the sacrifice of service.