A slip of the tongue enthralled the troops, families and residents in the crowd during Saturday’s send-off ceremony for the National Guard soldiers of Alpha Troop 1-112 Cavalry.
When Representative Diana Maldonado uttered “God bless the United States of Texas,” she quickly corrected herself, only to be greeted with the day’s biggest outburst — thunderous applause, a standing crowd and yells of “Hoo-Ah” from the troopers she was commending.
What she thought was a mistake turned out to be an exclamation of love and respect for Texas and the troopers who will soon be deploying to Iraq to fight for it.
The ceremony, which was well-attended with the troop, their families and dozens of Taylor residents, filled the Taylor High School auditorium and spilled into the foyer afterward.
With dignitaries Senator Steve Ogden, Congressman John Carter and Maldonado along with the troops’ commanding officers there to give their praise and prayers, the event was an emotional one that included tears, laughter and honor.
“This ceremony is not about us,” Captain Kevin Urbanek said, addressing the crowd. “It’s a way for us to show our thanks and appreciation to you, without whose support we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
Sen. Ogden presented the troopers with a flag that flew over the Texas Capitol in honor of their work and sacrifice.
“Fly this and remember what it stands for,” Ogden said.
The theme throughout the event was the sacrifice and involvement of the troopers families.
“To the families ... you are the unsung heroes of this conflict and quite frankly, of this country,” Col. Ferrel told those in attendance. “You must remain strong so the troopers can focus on their mission.”
But the immenent goodbyes didn’t dampen the mood for most.
“Being a cav trooper is like being a green beret, but better, because we do it all, but with style.” Ferrel said, donning the trooper’s Stetson and boots.
That Stetson, a signifying mark of the troop that calls Taylor its home, was awarded to Taylor second grader Garrett Orts, who recently completed a class project naming the National Guard Armory as an important building in town.
“The soldiers protect us and fight for our freedom,” Commissioner Ron Morrison read of why Orts chose the building. “Anyone want to take a guess as to what his future career will be?”
Orts saluted his idols on stage and accepted a certificate naming him an honorary member of Alpha Troop 1-112 Cavalry.
Ogden, Morrison and Maldonado all encouraged family, residents and friends to stay in contact with their elected leaders to make sure Texas soldiers were getting everything they needed to fight for their country and “protect freedom and give freedom to those that don’t have it.”
“If it is something I know about, I will move Heaven and Earth to get it done,” Ogden said.
“The families that give us soldiers give us the very best,” Morrison said. “And we send our very best into harms way. Joy time is when you get back. When all of you get back. So go out there, do your job, and do it well.”