Good luck and Godspeed

Published 9:00 pm Thursday, June 2, 2011

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of unusual activity at the Suffolk National Guard Armory. The Armory hosts senior citizens’ events, antiques appraisal events and prayer breakfasts most of the time. But recently National Guardsmen have been busy using the building for its primary purpose — staging Guard deployments.

During the Suffolk Leadership Prayer Breakfast last month, men and women in business attire mingled with soldiers in combat dress. People carrying plates of food moved out of the way as Guardsmen walked past carrying machine guns. The latter were beginning to get things ready for a deployment, prayer breakfast attendees learned.

That deployment started on Wednesday, when 130 men and women from the Suffolk unit left town for training at Fort Pickett near Blackstone and then Camp Atterbury in Indiana. From there, they will head for Iraq, where they will provide convoy support and base defense until the U.S. military’s scheduled departure from that nation on Dec. 31. After that, nobody’s quite sure what the unit will be called to do with the remainder of its 400-day tour of duty.


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Whatever one’s opinion of the war in Iraq, watching mothers and fathers say goodbye to husbands and wives, daughters and sons, should bring a mixture of pride and prayerful concern for those of us who continue to go about our lives here in the states.

Knowing that fighting men and women put themselves in harm’s way to protect our way of life should make us all stand a little straighter and hold our heads a little higher on their behalf. And it should bring us to our knees in prayer for their safety and for blessings on the families they leave behind.

And these feelings are no less warranted by the fact that the men and women who left Suffolk on Wednesday are only part-time soldiers. In fact, we should all have a new level of respect from the knowledge that the neighbor who leaves most mornings to go to school or on patrol for the police department or off to work at the pharmacy or the insurance agency is now headed off to war.

To the 130 men and women who left Suffolk on buses Wednesday, we say, “Thank you, good luck and God bless. We’ll be praying along with your families for your safe return.”