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Pioneer Editorial: Guard: 150 years' service to Minnesota

Monday marks an historic moment in Minnesota history as the 150th anniver-sary of the creation of the Minnesota Na-tional Guard. It is especially fitting to note the date as some 2,600 of our fellow Min-nesotans and many from our community are now on active Guard duty in Iraq.

U.S. Sens. Norm Coleman and Mark Day-ton co-sponsored a resolution commemor-ating the anniversary, and a similar resolu-tion was also approved in the U.S. House.

We would like to share the remarks made on the U.S. House floor by Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th District, himself a former National Guardsman:

"Mr. Speaker, on April 17, Minnesota National Guard will celebrate its 150th anniversary. It is with great pride that I rise today to pay tribute to the Minnesota National Guard and its past, present and future soldiers.

"The Minnesota National Guard has a rich history. It is two years older than the state of Minnesota itself and it has participated in every major military action this country has been involved in, including the Civil War, both world wars, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Today, as we honor the Minnesota Nation-al Guard, over 2,600 of its soldiers have re-cently been deployed in support of Opera-tion Iraqi Freedom. While they are away we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers and look forward to their safe return.

"The Minnesota National Guard is made up of the finest men and women this country has and they take pride in the fact this nation calls on them to serve.

"I also would like to recognize and thank their families and loved ones, their community and their employers. They too, are sacrificing in the service of our country.

"I would also like to honor and thank the members of the Minnesota National Guard who are being deployed to communities along the Red River of the North and its tributaries to assist with flood control. In my district floods are a frequent reminder of how much the Minnesota National Guard does for us on the home front. They are well prepared and always there for us when we need them.

"I also want to applaud the state of Min-nesota which has undertaken the conscien-tious policy of providing pay differential to its state employees who serve in the National Guard. Of the approximately 12,000 National Guard members in the state, about 500 of them work for the state of Minnesota and their lives, and the lives of their families during the difficult time of activation, has been made a little easier by Minnesota's pay differential policy.

"Mr. Speaker, I am a co-sponsor and strong supporter of legislation that would allow the federal government to follow Minnesota and provide pay differential for federal employees activated in the Guard and Reserve, and I hope that this body will pass this legislation soon, because it has worked well in Minnesota and I know it will work well in the rest of the country.

"Once again, I congratulate the Minnesota National Guard on its 150th anniversary and thank the all men and women who have served the state of Minnesota and the nation as members of this patriotic and courageous institution."