Sudbury is a town that continues to amaze me in many ways. Its passionate residents with their diverse opinions and backgrounds contribute to heated debates about schools, budgets, and politics. There are as many opinions as issues and as many who'd just rather stay out of the discussion entirely. Yet, for some issues, the true nature of the people of Sudbury shines above the fray in our small world in our small town.
This past Sunday, the Sudbury Military Support Network was at Sudbury Farms soliciting donations of food and supplies to send packages to troops overseas. Organized by the ever-present voice of support for our military families in Sudbury, Patty Houpt, over 20 volunteers braved the rain and DVR'd the Pats game to help the package drive succeed.
The support was overwhelming. Standing in the rain in my uniform as a recently returned Afghanistan veteran, the number of well wishes I received and the number of items donated was a testament to the support our town continues to show to our service men and women. For two hours, people rushing in to prep for the Pats game or for Hurricane Sandy were polite enough to listen to my 10-second spiel, and many of them chose to donate.
There are still over 70,000 troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, but that number is simply boots on the ground. Likely 150,000 troops will rotate in and out of Afghanistan over the next year and a half as we approach the 2014 date for the last combat troops to redeploy from Afghanistan. Some of the troops will come from Sudbury or are part of families that live in Sudbury, this isn't quite over yet.
Afgahnistan and Iraq are drawing down, but we are increasing a presence in Africa, thought by many to be one of the strong-holds of fundamentalist Islamic terrorist organizations. As with many ideologies, the spread of dangerous ideas is not limited to one country, region or even continent. Our troops deployed from Djibouti down the eastern side of Africa to Madagascar deserve our support and I am certain the Sudbury Military Support Network will be there for them as well.
There is no better way for me to express the emotional response I felt on Sunday witnessing that outpouring of support than to say I would deploy again. I would deploy to preserve freedom for my family, for my friends, but more importantly, for my neighbors for whom I have so much respect.
Thank you, Sudbury.