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Oregon Governor Responds to Anti-Deployment Vigil and FastSalem-News.com
Governor Ted Kulongoski tells Michele Darr from Operation Homebound that he will meet with her group Wednesday.
(SALEM, Ore.) - In a developing story, Oregon's Governor says he will meet with the woman who started the peace vigil and fast on Oregon's capitol steps called Camp Homebound.
Michele Darr says she was sitting at the state library today checking her email, when someone tapped on her shoulder. It was Paul Evans and Danny Santos from Governor Kulongoski's office.
Evans said, "The Governor is up the hall and he would like to have a few words with you." Darr said she was pleasantly surprised and followed the two aids into an office in the state library.
Darr said the Governor was friendly and warm and asked her, "What are you bringing forward today?"
"I explained that our purpose was to get a meeting with him personally, as more guard families are coming forward with questions about the deployment," Darr said. Along with her supporters, Darr says she remains hopeful that Oregon's governor can actually stop the deployment.
"I explained that our point is to keep the Oregon Guard home," Darr said. "The deployment is moved up to March, according to General Caldwell. I told him that we're going to keep the vigil going."
Darr says the governor expressed concern for her health with respect to the fast. "If you wrap up that fast I'm going to buy you lunch every single day for the rest of the time," Kulongoski said to Darr.
Kulongoski said they would go over his schedule for the coming days and get back to her with a specific time. "So I left knowing that they would contact me about the best time for a meeting," she said.
Then as quickly as it began, Darr says Evans and Santos returned to tell Darr that the meeting would take place tomorrow at 3:00 PM.
"It is a lot of work to do in 24 hours but we can do it," Darr said.
This peace activist is working with two Oregon Guard soldiers, Private Richard Portelli and Specialist Joe Landry. Annie Ford is also supporting Michele Darr. Her husband, Staff Sgt. James R. Eckley, died from exhaustion after four Oregon Guard deployments.
Darr says Annie Ford brought her a gift that she never expected. First she handed Michele Darr a card. As Darr related the story to me, her voice faltered. "She had written on it, 'my husband salutes you'." And then Ford handed Darr something even more overwhelming, her husband's chevrons from his uniform.
Representatives of the Oregon Governor have met with Darr and Operation Homebound in recent days, saying among other things that the matter is not in the Governor's hands because the state troops are federalized under the terms of the deployment. But Darr says that in spite of that, she believes he has the power to stop the scheduled deployment. Kulongoski is the commander of the Oregon Guard when it is not federalized.
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