As we start a new year I would like to take this opportunity to ask all of you to think about and thank our men and women in uniform for their commitment and dedication to our Nation. Last week, just two days after Christmas, I attended a departure ceremony in Fort Knox, Kentucky, for about 600 members of the Fort Wayne-based 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry Regiment of the Indiana Army National Guard. These men and women make up the first mobilization of the National Guard since the Korean War.
After presenting the Battalion with a City of Fort Wayne flag and proclaiming Indiana National Guard Day in Fort Wayne, I shook many hands, offered many well wishes and listened to dozens of touching stories. It quickly became obvious to me what a sacrifice these people are making to protect our country. For example, four National Guardsmen called to duty had just learned they were among the finalists in Fort Wayne's latest class of firefighters. Despite facing the prospects of battle, these men wanted to know if they would still qualify as Fort Wayne firefighters when they returned. It is that type of story that illustrates what fine men and women serve our country each and every day.
We should all be proud of the Fort Wayne men and women called to duty. While we do not know the exact nature of their mission, the Battalion has been sent to the Middle East. I ask all of you to join me in wishing our National Guard members a speedy and safe return.