For North Summit teacher, Veterans Day has a personal meaning | ParkRecord.com

For North Summit teacher, Veterans Day has a personal meaning

Growing up, Marques Johnson’s family valued service to one’s country above nearly all else. His grandfather had fought in World War II. One uncle had served in Vietnam and another had enlisted. The Johnsons revered patriotic pride — and actions that backed it up.

"My father was always a huge fan of veterans," Johnson said. "He always made sure that we showed them nothing but the utmost respect for their service. That was a key in our family, always giving veterans that respect because of the role it had in our family."

So when his older brother enlisted in the Air Force after graduating high school, Johnson’s path was set. He would follow in the footsteps of so many others in his family.

He joined the Air Force in 2006.

Nearly a decade later, Johnson is the physical education teacher and basketball coach at North Summit High School. But he still carries with him the lessons from four years in the military, a time full of experiences he wouldn’t trade for anything.

"I learned about sacrifice and about how tight-knit that military family is," he said. "Everyone is so willing, no matter what they had going on, to do a little extra to help you out. You feel obligated to always do something extra for everyone else.

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Johnson was deployed in England for much of his service, but also spent time in Qatar and Camp Sather in Iraq.

"We could literally see all the planes fly in and fly out of Baghdad International Airport," he said. "But being in the Air Force, we never left camp. I had some friends that joined the Marines and Army, and that combat was a completely different aspect that I didn’t engage in. It’s hard to imagine being on the front lines. Those people have all my respect."

After de-enlisting in 2010, Johnson returned to Utah and finished his degree at Weber State University. He came to North Summit four years ago to be involved in athletics, which he describes as one of his other childhood loves, along with military history.

But just because he is several years removed from his service does not mean he is no longer passionate. He said he values Veterans Day as an opportunity to salute the service men and women who protect the country — but he wishes Americans did more to honor them during the other 364 days of the year.

"I wish we could bring more publicity to the awesome thing that the men and women in the military are part of," he said. "Not all of it’s pretty, but once you’ve served you realize the sacrifices that everyone is making. You just wish civilian people could recognize it in the same way."