I am sure that you all know my feelings regarding the military and veterans. I have supported and am a part of many veteran organizations in our area. Because of this, I was invited to the deployment of our local National Guard last Saturday afternoon at Mountain View High School.
I was very proud of the support from the local community as the gym was packed even more than you would find for the local basketball team when they were in the state tourney.
Now, I have been very careful regarding my political views and have made great pains to insure that I have not stepped on any one's feet regarding theirs. I honor our differences and our diversity. That is a part of what makes us great people.
I listened to the speeches given by the various politicians attending. I heard many promises to the troops and to their families. I heard them promise them the very best of support and equipment to do their jobs and that would not have to worry about their families here as they will not want for any of their needs. If half of the promises of half of those leaders come true, I believe the families and loved ones of the departing troops will be satisfied.
But, I was saddened and somewhat embarrassed however by both of the speeches that our Governor gave.
In his first speech, he went into a bit more detail than I felt was needed regarding their deployment.
He told of how they would be separated into small groups upon arrival in Iraq. He seemed to attempt to encourage them a bit by saying that even though they will be separated that they will be together in spirit.
He then went on to tell these same people how we will be going into one of the most dangerous times of the war and how they might very well be targeted even more as we attempt to pull out from the country.
In my humble opinion, the danger of the war need not be restated in a way that brings more fear to the families. We need to be sensitive of that fear and not to exasperate it. Is this not a time for encouragement?
But then, when he returned to the podium for the official send off, he seemed to go to the bizarre. He told the troops that normally, he would go down the line, shake all of their hands, and then look them in the eye and tell them how proud we are of them.
He then went on to state that he would not do that because of the pending danger of the swine flu epidemic. He raised a bottle up in the air and informed the troops that he was giving them all a bottle of hand sanitizer and encouraged them to use it to help stifle the spread of this impending danger.
He was sending them off to a war zone and possible death but would not shake their hands for fear of the flu?
No one would have noticed if he would have slipped on a pair of white gloves. We would have all felt that it would be a part of the ceremony.
He might have very well been better informed to check with the local health departments. They will discourage the use of hand sanitizer due to the fact that they feel that with the use of them, people will be less apt to do what will protect them better which is to merely wash their hands.
Once again, I state that my viewpoint here is not meant to support or put down any political party. And I might add that I was greatly stirred by Senator Ron Wyden's speech of which he is a part of the same party as our Governor. Senator Wyden told the troops that now was not the time for political speech but to merely say that we love them, support them, to wish them Godspeed and await their safe return. I heartily clapped my approval to that.
We should all be very proud of our local young people who are there to stand in harms way to serve and protect our way of life. And to be fully aware of what their sacrifices give us.
Thank you to all of you and to your families. If you stop by the diner, I will not hesitate to shake any of your hands.