After attending a deployment ceremony for the local Oregon Army National Guard troops, Mayor John Stromberg vowed to stay in contact with the soldiers.

After attending a deployment ceremony for the local Oregon Army National Guard troops, Mayor John Stromberg vowed to stay in contact with the soldiers. He wrote this blog post describing how the ceremony impacted him.

May 5: Deployment

Sometimes you can't grasp the significance of an event until you experience it directly for yourself. That's what happened for me yesterday afternoon when I participated in ceremonies honoring service men and women of the Oregon Army National Guard, and their families, who are being deployed for a year to Iraq.

The event took place at the main pavilion at Expo Park in Central Point and I was invited to be one of three public officials who spoke — the other two were Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Rep. Peter Defazio, D-Ore. I was selected because one of the companies that comprise the Battalion involved in the ceremony is based in Ashland.

The mayor of Ashland, speaking in Central Point to National Guard soldiers going to Iraq isn't what I would have expected when I ran for office but this was a wonderful event to be part of and a challenge to Ashland.

These people are part of our community — and we are part of their community. They're going into a dangerous situation, protecting convoys all over Iraq, and I'm sure their families and friends are very worried. I also think they have a chance to help people in Iraq rebuild their society after years of war, which I believe we, as Americans, have a responsibility to do.

So, basically, our part is to be mindful of them for the year they're in Iraq. I'm going to try to help that to happen. This blog is the first step, and I'll report on the ceremony tonight at the City Council meeting. Also I've asked Capt. Karl Haeckler from our local National Guard facility, to keep me informed about the Battalion on a weekly basis. And the Brigade's commanding officer promised to send me his biweekly email.

When I saw and met the people at this ceremony I realized how tied together we all are and how responsible we who are able to continue our lives in Ashland are for supporting our fellow community members who are uprooting their lives to help people on the other side of the world.