Editorial: Students should have been notified of National Guard deployment

Ashland University students missed a learning opportunity Tuesday morning through no fault of their own.

While many were heading to Upper Convo for the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Symposium—a wonderful event that showcases the wide variety of research and creative work students are doing both in and out of the classroom—another event was taking place in Kates Gymnasium

At 10 a.m., 155 members of the Ohio National Guard’s 1486th Transportation Company out of Mansfield filed into the gym as their family members cheered them on. After that event was over, those same service members headed to Fort Bliss, Texas, where they would receive additional training before heading to the war in Afghanistan.

Right in our own gymnasium, we had dozens of Americans who were heading off to fight what is now an 11-year-old war, one that has grown increasingly dangerous, and virtually no one on campus knew about it.

Students didn’t know about it. Faculty didn’t know about it. At least one dean didn’t even know about it.

Which is a shame.

The war in Afghanistan and its counterpart in Iraq have been dragging on for so long now that we don’t even stop to think about them anymore. But when you see young men and women—some just 18 years old—in uniform, sitting in a gym and knowing their lives are about to change, the enormity of their sacrifice starts to sink in.

The event Tuesday morning would have been a perfect opportunity for students to see with their own eyes the impact war has on a community. Among those in attendance were at least six women pregnant with children who would be born while their fathers fought overseas. There were parents and grandparents, husbands and wives, and children, all waiving flags, all getting ready to say good-bye, and hoping it wasn’t for the last time.

This would have been good for our students to see. Unfortunately, the only people who knew anything might be up were those who live in Kem Hall, who were told via email over the weekend that they needed to move their cars for the event.

Hopefully, in one year, the 1486th will return, in tact, and we can welcome them home. One can only hope that if the return celebration is held in Kates Gymnasium, AU students will be invited.