I got a new perspective on our civic duty tonight. I went to the local National Guard Armory to vote in the statewide primary. When I got there I discovered that the 108th Forward Support Company of the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade was there preparing to head off to Texas for their training before being deployed to Iraq.
As I walked into the main hall, a majority of the solders were sitting down to their evening meal. There's no way to express the feeling I had as I walked passed all of these brave men and women who preserved my right to head over to the polls. I tried to make eye contact and smile at as many of the troops as I could. I wanted to call out a big thank you to all of them, but I would have been embarrassed to interrupt their meal.
Unfortunately, the feeling of pride that I felt at seeing all of those troops assembled, ready to head off and protect freedom and democracy, was short lived. I didn't know for sure when I showed up that they were preparing to ship out. As I headed to my car, I turned to an older lady who was also leaving. I asked if they were deploying, and she said to me that they were and, "It disgusts me".
In retrospect, I probably should have said something. I wanted to, but I didn't feel that an argument over the war in the parking lot of a unit preparing to head out was the best time or place. Her comment stuck with me though. How could you possibly be disgusted by the deployment of troops to try to secure the right that she just exercised to a place where that right was repressed for so long.
Whether you support the wars or not, it's folks like the 108th that allow others throughout the world to realize the rights and privileges that far too many in this country take for granted. Thank you to all members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade and please return to us safely.