The Lower Eastern Shore town of Crisfield is probably more anxiously awaiting news from Saudi Arabia than any other Maryland community. Some 200 of its sons and daughters are on duty there after the call-up of their National Guard unit, the 1229th Transportation Company, in late November. All of them are assigned to short- and long-haul truck missions in the war zone.
That is the largest proportionate call-up to the service we know within a Maryland community.
For Crisfield, the separation has been wrenching. The Somerset County seat has only 2,924 residents, and the young men and women sent to the Persian Gulf represent the community's future. Before they went to Fort Eustice, Va., for processing, they were honored with one of Crisfield's most memorable parades. The local Chamber of Commerce later hired buses to take their families to the fort for one last parting visit.
Similar concern and appreciation are being expressed in dozens of small towns and urban neighborhoods throughout America. The nation went through one of it most wrenching periods in the 1970s when servicemen returned from Vietnam unappreciated and unhealed. It was a bitter time that left not only those who served, but those who were served, challenging their nation's values.