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Nov-05-2008 21:54TweetFollow @OregonNews
Vigil Urges Legislature to Steer Oregon Guard Away From DeploymentTim King Salem-News.com
Group asks Oregon's Governor to cancel a massive deployment set for 2009.
(SALEM, Ore.) - A woman who camped on the Oregon Capitol steps for several weeks in protest of the war in Iraq in 2002, has returned to Salem to help convince lawmakers to remove Oregon Guard soldiers from a planned trip to Iraq next year. Michele Darr will spend long, cold days and nights in the Oregon rain trying to convince the powers to be that Oregon soldiers should instead be home with their families.
Darr left her home, family and 4 children in Corvallis to "deploy" for the steps of the Oregon State Capitol building in Salem, Oregon, where she and others are on a hunger strike and 24-7 vigil/encampment set to continue through the holidays, winter months and into next year's legislative session.
Darr is doing this because she believes she and other can make a difference, and "bolster the possibility of the success of a proposed resolution to keep Oregon's National Guard home in Oregon, and to bring attention and awareness of the imminent deployment of 3500 National Guard troops next year."
Darr has composed an open letter from "Camp Homebound" to the Oregon Legislature and Governor Ted Kulongoski. It is included at the bottom of this article.
I have known Michele Darr since 2002 when she was on the capitol steps longer than most people would have stayed there. I would frequently visit her and check for updates on her campaign. I have also deployed with the Oregon Guard to both Afghanistan and Iraq to cover their operation. I see a parallel between the honorable actions of our Guard soldiers and the actions of Michele Darr. Perhaps Governor Ted Kulongoski will read the letter, maybe it will make a difference.
I know many civilian soldiers who are scheduled to deploy as part of the 41st Brigade Combat Team next year to Iraq. I do not know very many who are thrilled about it. These soldiers spent a year in Afghanistan over 2006/07 and they will now enter a war that is very different.
There is a good deal of discussion in the ranks that the mission will ultimately be diverted to Afghanistan. Most of the Oregon Guard soldiers I have talked to believe Afghanistan would be a better place for them to go if they must deploy. Only time will tell what their ultimate war theater destination will be, or if there will be one at all.
Darr believes they should be home with their families and available to fight fires and fill other roles of a state national guard unit. Here is her letter to Oregon's Governor Ted Kulongoski.
Open letter to our Friends of the Oregon Legislature,
My name is Michele Darr. I hail from Corvallis where I live with my family and 4 young children.
I have been following the progress of the campaign to pass a resolution keeping the Oregon National Guard home in Oregon next year rather than deploying to Iraq and Afganistan in the largest numbers since World War 2. On November 1st, 2008, I left my family, the comforts of my home and "deployed" for the steps of the Oregon State Capitol Building where I and others will spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the upcoming winter months holding a prayer vigil and water-only fast/hunger strike until the Oregon Legislature passes the resolution to keep our overburdened, beleaguered National Guard troops home in Oregon next year.
As mother and human being, I find myself called to personally implore you to support the passage of this resolution, as it is inconceivable to fathom forcing 3500 of our sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, friends and neighbors to once again uproot their lives and go off to fight in a war that is not justified under the Constitution or the laws of the United States.
The terms of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq have expired, removing any vestiges of justification for the continued presence of the Oregon National Guard in Iraq and Afganistan.
Multiple combat deployments to Iraq are increasing serious mental health problems among soldiers, triggering drug and alcohol abuse and contributing to record suicide levels, The high price of deployment being extracted from our brave Oregon National Guard has resulted in grievous harm to them and to their families including death, injury, loss of time together, and financial hardship including job loss.
In the last 4 days that we've spent here, numerous Guardspeople have stopped by, shared stories of deployments and the impact on their families and psyches. Every single one of them expressed to me how much they appreciate the effort to keep them here at home, and pray that we succeed in time to halt next spring's disastrous deployment, in which they will again find themselves underequipped, overburdened, and sorely needed here at home to respond to disasters, fight fires, and conduct search and rescue.
We are at a crossroads, my friends. We cannot continue to allow our troops to absorb the soul shattering impact of these wars. The decision now rests with all of you. This upcoming holiday season, when you bask in the radiant warmth of love and goodwill, when you sit down to pray with your family and loved ones, please remember them. Remember their sacrifices, their grief, and pledge to relieve them of some of the heavy load they and their families have been burdened with for too long. Remember that it is all of our responsibility to demand that this exploitive abuse of our courageous men and women be stopped. Please, friends, pledge your support and resolve to work together in January towards liberating our Guard. They've gone far beyond the call of duty. It's time to bring them home. From the bottom of my heart,
Michele Darr and Camp Homebound
We will issue updates as to the status and progress of this group in their effort to convince the state legislature to make a 180 and save their soldiers for home missions.
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