The patriotism was present but subdued Tuesday at the send off ceremony for the Indiana National Guard 38th MSB B Company.
But the sadness penetrating the rotunda at the Clay County Courthouse couldn't hide the pride the crowd of more than 200 felt for the uniformed men and women preparing to deploy for active duty before Jan. 26.
The transportation unit doesn't know their final destination but are expected to remain in the continental United States. Their deployment could last up to 24 months.
Sponsored by veterans groups and employees of the Clay County Courtthouse, the program was preceded by taped recordings of the official songs of the various military branches. After the VFW, American Legion Color Guard presented the colors, the "National Anthem" was sung, followed by the "Pledge of Allegiance" and a prayer.
Speeches were brief but poignant.
Retired Col. Don Moreau said, "When you go with the blessings of the people you live with, that's a blessing... With Korea it was good. With Vietnam it was bad. That won't happen again. On behalf of the citizens of Clay County, we're proud of you. Serve well. Do the best you can. Remember, we're all for you. Good Luck."
Clay County Commissioner President Dave Parr believed that serving in the military of the nation is the most honorable thing a person can do.
"We're proud of each and every one of you for what you're about to do," he said. "We're behind you 100 percent. We'll be praying for you."
Mayor Tom Arthur said, "Today you'll enter the job, not for your self but for the betterment of our country." as he spoke about the courage of a soldier.
A special presentation was made by Sarge Eveland and Kenny Crabb on behalf of the Breakfast Optimist Club. They presented Capt. Erik Parker with a state flag for B Company.
A little humor was added when Eveland said, "There's always somebody called Pop or Dad in a unit. We think it's proper to recognize one of those people." Sgt. Calvin Lints was called up and given a book, Over the Hill.
Clay County Veterans Service Officer Les Walden was presented with a ceremonial bugle from Rob Moore. The bugle was supposed to be given to VFW Commander James Cassidy who could not be present because he was attending a funeral at the time.
Walden then gave a banner to Parker from the 4th grade class of Staunton Elementary School. It contained the signature of each student with well wishes for Company B and hopes that all of the soldiers return safely back to Brazil.
Punch and home made cookies were available after the program. The soldiers were given a short time to visit with family and friends before leaving to continue preparations for their nearing departure. If the patriotic crowd yesterday was any indication, the troops of the 38th MSB Company B will leave behind, and hopefully soon return, to a community full of love, pride and support for their soldiers.