WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Community Says Goodbye to Soldiers

Macomb, IL – Nearly 90 National Guard troops from Macomb are on an assignment that will eventually take them to Egypt. Their deployment could last for up to 400 days.

Family, friends, and others from the community turned out for a send-off ceremony that started at 8:00am on Sunday May 23. It took place on the lawn at the Macomb Armory. The grounds were lined with American flags.

Carol Bell was there to say goodbye to her 21-year old son Josh.

"I'm okay right now but I'm sure I'm gonna cry in a little while," said Carol Bell.

Soldiers embraced their mothers, fathers, wives, children, and friends.

A hush fell over the crowd as the official ceremony began. The program lasted for just 15 minutes.

State Representative Rich Myers (R-Colchester) told the crowd that in a powerful nation, we expect otherwise ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

"They are not just soldiers. They live and work among all of us," said Myers. "But they are professionally trained soldiers that keep the peace for our country."

Myers said the region's communities will not forget the soldiers' service.

Police escorted the buses that carried the soldiers out of town. People stood along parts of the route to wave flags and show their support.

Laura Gabbei stood in front of her home on East Grant Street with her husband and children.

"It's these guys (the children) that they're fighting for as much as anybody," said Gabbei.

Soon the troops were gone, headed overseas in service of the nation and in support of the beliefs represented by those red, white, and blue flags flying in their honor.