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No Long Beach Officials at Guard Recognition Event

June 25, 1992

From May 1 to May 18 I was activated into duty with the rest of the California Army National Guard. Although it did disrupt my life and put many holds on my career and education, I understood this to be an important and life-saving mission. I also understood my duty when I enlisted.

I was happy and honored to help defend and protect the cities of South Los Angeles that were ravaged during the riots, including my own Long Beach. I also felt very proud of the rest of the citizen-soldiers who gave up whatever they were doing to respond to the call of help.

Throughout the entire ordeal the public was warm and responsive. People went out of their way to shake our hands, pat us on the backs or simply thank us. Every soldier I talked to was extremely grateful to have such an overt appreciation by most of the citizens of Los Angeles.

On May 26 the city of Los Angeles and the city officials of the affected areas decided to show their own appreciation of the sacrifices that the citizen-soldiers made.

The National Guard chose one soldier for each of the 15 participating cities to represent the Guard and meet with the mayors. I was chosen to be the representative of Long Beach.

Each mayor or city official walked up to the podium and presented the representative soldier with a plaque or the key to the city and said a few word of gratitude. That is, all except Long Beach.

Speaking as just a lady who got stood up, I felt angry and hurt. Speaking as a soldier whose mayor felt it unnecessary to attend himself or even to send a representative, I felt insulted. And speaking as a citizen of Long Beach, I felt confused and bewildered as to why Mayor Ernie Kell chose not to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the National Guard soldiers who helped to preserve his city.

By the time I returned home I was so perplexed as to why my own mayor did not show up or, at the very least, send a replacement, that I decided to call City Hall to satisfy my own curiosity.

I was told by a rather curt woman that the mayor was busy with a financial planning meeting. I was told that they only found out about the luncheon a week beforehand and could not make arrangements.

I find it rather aggravating that the Long Beach City Council can not find one person, given a week's notice, to present a token of appreciation to one of its own citizens who risked life and limb to protect the very same city. I said as much to the woman who answered the phone. I was then told that if I gave her my name and address she would give that to Mayor Kell.

Well folks, he still hasn't called or written. I am glad, however, that the citizens of Long Beach did not wait around for the mayor to show the appreciation of the city. If they did that I would be feeling extremely dejected. Instead I realize that the people are grateful; it's just those who sit on elected seats in Long Beach that feel that the National Guard does not merit recognition.

And, speaking as a lady, a soldier and a citizen, they are wrong.

ASHLEY ABELL

Long Beach

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