There were some weepy eyes last night at the rousing send-off for Toledo's 323rd Military Police Company - but don't look for tears from the activated Ohio National Guard members themselves.
By all indications, the 167 MPs who have been called up for the war on terrorism are pumped up and looking forward to their mission, which is to perform police work at Fort Bragg, N.C.
They'll fill in for active-duty officers who are being deployed elsewhere.
“Morale is high. We're eager to get going,” said Sgt. Rudy Santibanez.
Indeed, one of his troopers, Nancy Kary, fairly beamed with excitement as she lined up in formation during the ceremony at Bowsher High School. Never mind that she'll be leaving behind her fianc and her business for up to a year or more.
The owner of the Medusa hair salon in West Toledo, Ms. Kary is a 12-year veteran of the 323rd. At 33, she had been out of the Guard for three years with no intention of re-upping, until Sept. 11.
That day, after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, the hairstylist phoned her old outfit with a simple statement: “I'm ready if you need me.”
It did, and Ms. Kary was as good as her word. This morning she'll be on the motor caravan to “Bragg,” which is expected to arrive at the sprawling post tomorrow.
“How could I do nothing?” she asked. “These were terrorist attacks on us. The country is mobilized. I had to do my part.”
Eric Rojski, the man she plans to marry, described himself as sad but supportive.
“I'm standing behind her 100 percent. Anything we can do for her, we'll do,” he said. He said they would stay in touch by telephone and e-mail.
The deployment ceremony filled the high school auditorium. Huzzahs and stand-up applause filled the air for a full five minutes as members of the 323rd, clad in fatigues and the Army's new black berets, filed in.
Speakers praised the military police for their duty to their country. Maj. Gen. John Smith, Ohio's adjutant general, said the 323rd exemplified the Guard's motto: “When called, respond and be ready.”
“To the men and women of the 323rd MP company, your nation has called. I know you're ready,” he said.
Speaking by satellite feed, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said: “This is a very serious time for our country. And the words `duty,' `honor,' `country' have a fuller meaning.”
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner told the group: “You are not leaving us behind. These men and women here ... and thousands at home are going to be with you in heart and mind and spirit everywhere. You've committed yourselves to a very high duty: to protect all of us in the United States of America and those of us abroad.”
To date, 760 of Ohio's 15,000 National Guard members have been called to active duty.