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Today, I attended the Welcome Home Ceremonies for our local National Guard Unit. The 833rd Engineers were coming home from their second deployment to Iraq. They were to arrive at Indian Hills Community College Hellyer Center Field House between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. As expected they were about 45 minutes late. We were kept in contact with the 2 buses carrying the troops and the accompanying convoy of 24 motorcycle riders from the “Freedom Riders” and numerous auto’s by the local radio station who had joined them a 100 miles out or so. The route in town was decorated with yellow ribbons and many welcome home signs. Individual soldiers on the buses were allowed, if they so desired, to speak by radio to loved ones at the packed field house. As we had considerable time to wait, the radio station also serenaded us with every country western patriotic song ever recorded, which I might add was entirely appropriate.

Generally speaking, the War isn’t the center of conversation any more. Most people, now are far more concerned about their economic hardships and inconveniences (or illegal immigrants). The only feelings about the war are negative at best, and one sees fewer flags and Support Our Troops signs. But for today, we in attendance and the community in general were all emotional, flag waving, red-blooded, South Iowa redneck patriots, with lots of cheers and tears. The songs before their arrival about the Stars and Stripes, the Red, White, and Blue, Eagles, Pride, and Daddy coming home made those cheers lift the decimal meter. They may have equaled those which were surely heard in the years when the field house was home to three consecutive National Championships in Junior College basketball as attested by the hanging banners.  At last the troops marched in.  We then listened to short remarks from our Democrat Congressman and our Democrat Lieutenant Governor who thankfully did not trash the war. The best part was when the troops and families were quickly allowed to reunite. It all made old Grumpy feel good. Joel and I didn’t have ceremonies. We just came home – to loving families.

While the accompanying link is not the best video, it will have to do. The lights were darkened as they marched in for some reason and then turned on, making the video difficult to view.  Also provided is a link to story from the Des Moines Register.

http://static.cnhi.zope.net/flashpromo/ottumwadailycourier/mediacenter/LocalNewsContent/2008/2008060708833rdHomecoming/Video.html

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080608/NEWS/806080334

Later, this day good wife Pat and I watched the Belmont Stakes and hopefully the next Triple Crown Winner. It just wasn’t Big Brown’s day and Gram was very disappointed. Well we’ll get em’ next year!

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