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      Auburn sheds tears for a soldier's homecoming: Matt's Memo

      Sgt. Frankie Phillips gets a hero's welcome at Auburn's City Hall.

      The giant American flag flapped in the breeze suspended from a three story arch framed by two fire department ladder trucks. The deep blue spring sky provided the backdrop for an Americana scene set in front of the pillars of Auburn's classic city hall. Patriotism and pride pulsed through a community paying tribute to a soldier killed in action who had come home to be with family one last time.

      Sgt. Frankie Phillips lost his life in Afghanistan last weekend in an IED explosion. The blast took him out along with four fellow soldiers deployed out of Fort Bliss, Texas. They are fighting an aware that America entered in the months following the 9/11 attacks in the spring of 2002. More than a decade later the bodies are still coming home, a grim reminder of the high price of war.

      Family of Phillips was there weaping over the loss of their treasured son. They were not alone in shedding tears. Teens and children cried. So did adults who connected the death of Sgt. Phillips to members of their own family in the military.

      In the coming days there will be a wake and a funeral service. Then Sgt. Phillips' remains will be taken to the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. He will arrive a few days short of Memorial Day. That day came early for Auburn today. The tears shed offer evidence of the sorrow connected to our nation's greatest sacrifice.

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