Congratulations to the planning committee for an outstanding Deployment Ceremony for our National Guard troops!
Saturday's event was amazing in every detail, from the flags on Main Street to the sunshine that greeted us as we left the elementary school.
The Morris Area High School Wind Ensemble earned high marks from everyone on their performance.
The American Legion, AmVets and VFW members snapped into formation nearly as enthusiastically as the active duty soldiers.
The members of the Patriot Guard probably would have stood all night, holding American flags and offering hand shakes and good wishes to the soldiers.
The community brought a sense of good will to the ceremony, giving the governor a standing ovation in respect for his position as commander-in-chief of our soldiers.
And of course, there were the soldiers. Eager to stand and bellow, "Here, First Sergeant," for roll call.
Minnesota Adjutant General Larry Shellito pointed out the obvious in his remarks when he noted that the National Guard troops are no longer just "weekend warriors." These folks are making a commitment beyond one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer.
Information provided by the Minnesota National Guard states that the average age of the deploying Minnesota soldiers is 28 years old. The youngest soldier is 18, and the oldest is 51. Nearly two-thirds of the 560 deploying Minnesota soldiers have dependent children.
Capt. David Johansson, who will lead the troops, said he was proud of the members of Charlie Battery.
So are we, Capt. Johansson.
We are proud that our friends, co-workers and neighbors are rising up to the challenges that come with a troop deployment, whether it is as a soldier who will be moving half way around the world, or the family and friends who will stay here and try to get along without them.
A year isn't that much time, when you spread it out over a lifetime. But when it's this year and your life, it is a long time. There will be undeniable challenges in the year ahead. But Capt. Johansson also spoke for everyone in the audience when he said, "Let's get on with the job we were trained to do."
Of all that was said in that ceremony, it was a small joking comment from the governor that sticks with me. After complimenting Wanda Dagen and the band on their performance, Pawlenty lightheartedly told the students, "Get your homework done before the weekend's over." It was a reminder, I think for all of us, that as much as we would like time to stand still, life goes on.
Again, many thanks to the volunteers who helped with Saturday's events. I hope that you all slept well that night, with an enormous sense of satisfaction for a job well done.