GUARD TROOPS DESERVE OUR SUPPORT
Our local National Guard unit is heading off Saturday for two weeks of training at Camp Rilea on the Oregon Coast. The training will be 3rd Battalion, 116th Armored Cavalry's first since it was put on notice a few weeks ago for possible mobilazation and assignment in Iraq later in the year.
Considering the recent turn of events in Iraq, our Guardsmen and women, their loved ones, their workmates and their acquaintances have to be feeling a bit of trepidation. Historically a tank unit, the 116th is being retrained as an infantry unit. What we as community need to do, no matter how some might feel about what's going on in Iraq, is show our citizen soldiers that we are behind them 100 percent and will give them whatever support they need.
That support will come in many forms from making sure our local men and women are properly outfitted for their duty in Iraq, to providing the emotional support so important for soldiers and their families in a time of war.
This past week the violence resulting from the insurgency in Iraq hit closer to home when Oregon National Guardsman Sgt. Lucas Wilson of Hermiston was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and had to have his left leg amputated below the knee. Wilson grew up in La Grande and has relatives here. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the 24-year-old sergeant.
That our area hasn't had to endure more tragedies during the year-long conflict is remarkable. Numerous servicemen have been assigned to Iraq and have performed admirably. But not until our own local Guard unit with about 150 members from Union and Wallowa counties ships out will we as a community truly understand the concern, the fears and the pride that families of servicemen and women have been feeling since the war in Iraq began.
The most significant thing we can do is provide support in whatever way we can and show them that we care and appreciate their commitment and sacrifice to serve our country.
And speaking of rallying our own, what the community did Tuesday to come to the aid of Allen Hoadley was simply phenomenal. About 200 people showed up for an auction to raise money to help cover Hoadley's medical expenses related to a recent snowmobile accident.
The response was overwhelming, but even more impressive were the citizens who stepped up to buy Hoadley's niece's horse that she had offered to sell for the sake of her uncle. The horse was sold not once, but twice, and both times given back to little Amie Hardenbrook. Amie doesn't have to part with her beloved Holly, and the fund drive got a $3,030 boost.
Those bidders are to be commended. That's what community is all about.
Editorials in this column are the opinion of The Observer's editorial board. The board is comprised of Ron Horton, publisher; Ted Kramer, editor; Jeff Petersen, news editor; and Pierre LaBossierre, wire editor. Letters from readers, signed columns on this page and cartoons represent the opinions of the writer/artist and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial board.