Sergeant First Class Doug Weston with the Missouri National Guard will deliver the patriotic address at Monett's July 4th celebration on Sunday.
Weston's address will provide the keystone to the festivities at Monett's South Park, leading up to the fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. Weston will speak from the stage on the park's main field at 8 p.m., following an invocation that will be given by Pastor Chad Bennett from Monett Community Church.
Weston is a 1990 graduate of Exeter High School. He served in the United States Navy for six years, working on submarines as a nuclear reactor operator. In 1997, Weston joined the Missouri National Guard and became a recruiter.
As a member of the National Guard, Weston joined local soldiers in a deployment to Iraq in 2004. He served on a 17-man team to design a prison for "high value" detainees.
When Weston was deployed to Iraq, he was serving the final six months of his three-year term on the Exeter School Board. While in Iraq, Weston received his board packets by e-mail and participated in board meetings via telephone whenever possible.
Weston was injured in Iraq and returned to Missouri in 2005, subsequently resuming his duties with the Missouri National Guard. He received a special welcome from the students at Exeter who hosted a "Welcome Home" celebration for their returning hometown hero.
While Weston was serving in Iraq, Exeter student started wearing yellow bracelets that read "Until They All Come Home." Weston also participated in frequent question and answer sessions over the internet with the Exeter Middle School's communication arts classes.
Weston is married and has four children. Exeter is still his home.
Following Weston's address, the band Speed Shift will take the stage until the fireworks display. The band will continue playing after the fireworks until midnight.
Festivities at the park begin at 1 p.m. with the opening of the municipal swimming pool. Fifteen inflatables and assorted games provided by Star-Walk Entertainment will open at 2 p.m. along Highway 37. Armbands for the entertainment venues are still available in advance for $12 from many downtown businesses and at the Chamber of Commerce office. Cost will be $15 on Sunday.
Editor Lisa Schlichtman contributed to this story.