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St George, Utah
Breakfast in St George
This is another of my travel hubs and as usual it was a fly-drive holiday with only the first and last nights accommodation booked. What follows is from the perspective of an ordinary family of tourists on holiday, I hope that you will enjoy your virtual trip to St George in Utah with me.
We flew into Las Vegas at around 4pm on Monday March 17th the year was 2003 we booked into our motel had a meal and a stroll round the Vegas strip now we felt like we had begun our holiday in the USA. As normal on our first day in the USA we all awoke very early because of the time difference between the States and the UK. Because none of us could get back to sleep we got up and dressed then left our motel at around 5am and set off heading vaguely towards Bryce Canyon.
After being on the road for about three hours we decided to stop off somewhere to have some breakfast, that somewhere turned out to be St George in Utah. It was around eight o’clock in the morning on Tuesday the 18th of March when we pulled into a restaurant on North River Road.
As we were eating we glanced out of the restaurant window and we could see people beginning to line the road in front of the restaurant. We had no idea what was going on and we then saw on the far corner of the crossroads a TV crew was setting up its camera.
Sadness Pride and Patriotism
By this time we knew something was about to happen so I went out to the roadside where now I could see little clusters of people beginning to gather some carrying flags and others placards. There was a definite buzz in the air and you could tell that something important was about to happen and we were going to be fortunate enough to witness this event.
We didn’t have too long to wait the people of St George had turned out to give their young troops in the National Guard 222 Field Artillery a big St George send off. The National Guard 222 Field Artillery was being deployed to training prior to going off to fight in the Gulf.
I could see family groups, mums and dads brothers and sisters, along with friends standing patiently waiting for the buses that were carrying off their loved ones to the training camps before they were sent off to war.
There was a mixture of sadness, pride and patriotism, mums fighting back the tears trying to put a brave face on so that their tears would not upset their soldier sons and daughters. I could identify a little with these families as my son at that time was in the RAF and I know that I would have been going through the same sort of emotional roller coaster as these families were experiencing.
St George seemed to me that day to be a very supportive loving community, just about every local government vehicles had turned out to escort the buses carrying the young troops.
The Police Cars Led the Procession
Police cars led the procession with their blue lights flashing the sirens blaring and their car horns honking in salute and tribute to the young warriors.
Next came the Sheriff with his lights flashing and siren blaring the noise heightened the emotions of all around and the gathering crowds began to cheer and clap as these vehicles passed by.
Lights Flashing Sirens Blaring
Then came the fire department vehicles, the small red cars of the fire service along with what must have been all the large fire engines of St George. I could not image that there was a single vehicle left belonging to the fire service in St George that was not present on this special parade. All the lights were flashing and the deep bass sound of the fire truck’s sirens made your body vibrate as they passed by within feet of you.
Gestures of support
By now tears were flowing freely from the eyes of many in the watching crowd, mine included, it was very hard not to be moved by this show of love and support from the community for its troops.
Next followed a small fleet of lime green vehicles and I cannot remember what these vehicles were, they may have been forestry or road maintenance vehicles but what ever they were they were there to support their young troops and to give them a huge send off. They made their presence known just as the others had done by flashing all their lights and sounding their horns which you could plainly seen the waiting crowds really appreciated these gestures.
What every one was waiting for
Closely following these vehicles came more police cars and pairs of police motorcyclists again with every light flashing and every horn and siren blaring out its salute. No doubt some of the young troops had been members of some of these services themselves before they were called up to be deployed.
Then at last came the vehicles that everyone was waiting for the buses that were carrying the members of the National Guard 222 Field Artillery. The buses drove slowly passed families and friends who all waved and cheered as loudly as they could. Some held high the American flag, some held placards with personal messages for the soldiers on the buses.
All over too soon
The TV crew on the corner were busy recording this heart felt send off, no doubt it would all be played out on the local news that night. As they passed by I wondered how long it would be before these young people would be back home safe and sound with their part played so that they and their families could take up the reins of their normal lives once again.
The final vehicle in the send off escort was a St George Sheriff’s car, and as suddenly as it started the parade finished, it was all over too soon. Only minutes after the film crew had packed up and gone, the crowds had disappeared and no one would have known that North River Road had played a part in a moving tribute and send off for the National Guard 222 Field Artillery.
We climbed into our car and headed for the highway and Cedar City and as we passed along the highway many of the bridges had the American flag and banners draped from them wishing the soldiers God speed and good luck
Again we had found that some of the most momentous and memorable experiences on our holiday were not the planned ones but the ones which we came upon by chance. This emotional community send off in St George was certainly one of these serendipitous experiences that will long remain in my memory.
St George has much to offer
The city of St George has much to offer the tourist; it has museums, water parks, golf all the year round, lots of outdoor pursuit amenities and the first Mormon Temple to be completed in the West. The Temple is part of the city’s historical tour.
The Temple was dedicated in 1877 and it cost the staggering amount of $800,000 it stands today as a testament to the quality of the workmanship of those early Mormon settlers and all their hard work. It was a pity that we didn’t have more time to spare to explore this delightful city, with its caring friendly people.
We only stopped for breakfast and we got far more than that, but I think we didn't even scratch the surface of what St George has to offer.
The next time we are passing by this way I think we will give this place a little more of our time and I think that it will prove to be time well spent.