When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect.
World War II/Korean War veteran Henry (Hank) Alcot, who was born and raised in Maine, enlisted in the United States Marines in 1944.
After his discharge from the Marines Hank went to work for the National Guard in Sunnyslope, Ariz.
"In the National Guard I was a Supply Sergeant in Company K. But when the Korean War started I wanted back in the Marines, so I enlisted in the Marines again," Hank said.
"I was in the 1st Tank Battalion in the 1st Marine Division, as a Supply Sergeant and that is when I was first in combat. We were being shot at while we were getting supplies," he added.
During that time Hank wasn't wounded in Korea but he did get extreme frostbite to his hands and feet while on guard duty and now has severe neuropathy all the way up to his thighs, and numbness up to his elbows because of it.
Hank feels the military opened up a great many job options for him.
"I think there is a tremendous opportunity for a great career to the young people who enter the military," Hank said.
"In my day we felt going into the military was the right thing to do. We were proud to do it and to serve our country."
Commander Cloyce Kelly of American Legion Post 40 in Chino Valley enlisted into the Marines from his home state of Illinois in 1967, and within the first year was made a lieutenant.
"I joined the military because it seemed like there would be a lot of adventure and good traveling. My dad and uncle were both in World War II so it's kind of a family tradition to serve our country," said Cloyce.
Cloyce was deployed to Viet Nam in 1969.
"I was involved in TET-69 and was lucky enough that I was never wounded, out of a group of 200 Marine officers only about 10 of us weren't wounded.
I did take a couple of wild helicopter rides though, being extracted from combat patrol," he recalled.
Cloyce made a career in the military and when he left the Marines in 1980 he held the rank of captain.
"The military taught me discipline and acceptance of all people," Cloyce said.
"Entering the military and leaving my hometown was a great introduction to the whole world, and from those experiences around the world, I realize how lucky we are to have the freedoms we have in America."
Roger Strader, who now works for the town of Chino Valley, enlisted in the United States Army in 1987.
"I have always been interested in the military and when I was in my early teens I asked my mom and dad to send me to a military school. They didn't so at the age of 21 I enlisted in the active duty Army. Being in the military does make you grow up fast, but I did get to see a lot of the world," said Roger.
After his basic training, Roger was deployed to Germany, and while he was there he had the exciting experience of seeing the Berlin Wall come down.
In 1990 Roger was deployed to Saudi Arabia where he was part of the Desert Storm invasion into Iraq.
"Although I never pulled the trigger, I saw a lot of men go down.
In my opinion this mission (Desert Storm) was an honorable mission," Roger said.
"We went there to deliver the people from a tyrant, which we did, and I am proud to have been a part of it."