Always ready, always there," goes the motto of those who serve in the country's National Guard. Indeed they are.
Recent deployment of guardsmen and women to serve in Germany and Turkey, even as US regular forces continue to move into Afghanistan and elsewhere, proves again the National Guard's enormous value in defending the homeland at home and abroad.
Since Sept. 11, some 70,000 Guard troops and Reservists have been on duty, armed and in uniform - 7,000 stationed in airports around the country and 4,200 deployed to help protect the Olympics at Salt Lake City. They've been tapped to help secure the nation's capital. They've gone to the US/Mexico border to assist. They're even protecting astronauts, as members of Florida's Air National Guard patrol the skies over Cape Canaveral. And they're versatile - ready on Groundhog Day to help protect Punxsutawney Phil's annual debut.
Moves to guarantee Guard members their jobs when they return from duty should be supported. They also deserve better pay as Guardsmen, as Gov. Gray Davis of California noted in his recent State of the State address. Efforts by companies to pick up the difference between Guard members' salaries and duty pay, or to even continue them at full salary, should be encouraged. The Guard's role in homeland security can't be overestimated.