EDITORIAL: A final salute to the Tell City Armory

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There’s no doubt Tell City and Perry County people will continue to answer the calls of their community, their state and their nation as members of the Indiana National Guard, but they will no longer assemble in what was until Thursday the Tell City Armory.

From a grammatical standpoint, it’s not proper to capitalize armory in that usage. Technically, it has always been an Indiana National Guard armory in Tell City. The National Guard is a state organization, and when ordered into service, falls under federal control.

And yet it was not unusual to hear people refer to the building as “the Tell City National Guard Armory.”

The soldiers who have long assembled in the building near the upper end of Tell Street didn’t all come from Tell City. In fact, some drove considerable distances to report for training or deployments. But we have long taken pride in all of them, and in the fact that they were based in our community. We have felt appreciation for their service and their sacrifices when they were called away from their routines and their loved ones to protect us from heavy snows, floodwaters or terrorists.

Their building became ours in a handover ceremony conducted Thursday. As reported in this edition, speakers at the event included the commander for Indiana’s Army and Air National Guard, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, and Tell City Mayor Barbara Ewing. They and others commented on the significance of the armory and the soldiers who graced its halls to the community during its 50 years of existence.

This nation has a long history of honoring not only the people who put themselves in harm’s way on behalf of others, but also facilities that have served them in those efforts. We ceremoniously decommission sea vessels, often turning them into museum pieces to serve memorial and educational purposes for generations of Americans to reflect upon. Entire military bases are turned over to communities, their significance often reduced to a plaque or stone attempting to encapsulate decades of history.

Each example brings the sadness of something once alive and vibrant disappearing into history. Besides the contributions our soldiers have volunteered to our community and nation, how many deep friendships have been forged in their gatherings? How many have become better people by having given freely of themselves to the greater good?

We join the military and city officials in smartly saluting the Tell City Armory as it is redirected, like a battleship sailing its final voyage, toward new purposes. We hold our salute to display our respect for all those who have served us, those who continue to do so and those who will in the future.

Umbarger promised that the Indiana National Guard will always be available to this community. We believe deep in our hearts that promise is mutual.

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