Monday, May 28, 2007

Perspective: A long time gone

CROOKSTON, Minn. As often as he can, 6-year-old Austin Cassavant sits by his mother's computer and watches his father's face appear on the webcam from Iraq. On good days, sitting thousands of miles apart, they will tell stories and play tic-tac-toe.

Waiting for his father's return, Austin began writing down his thoughts on slips of paper and dropping them in a jar. No one knows what he writes.

"He and his dad can go through them," his grandmother said, "when he's home."

By the time winter gave way to spring, the Minnesota National Guard was supposed to be back from war. Austin's father, Sgt. 1st Class Corey Cassavant, would be fishing for walleye and bass and grilling his catch. Spec. Corey Stusynski would be behind the counter at his paint store and teaching Sunday school. Staff Sgt. Logan Wallace would be plowing the fields near Thief Lake.

But guard members from small towns such as Crookston, Goodridge and Fergus Falls are still patrolling Iraq, their tour extended by President Bush's troop buildup. When they finally return this summer, they will have been gone nearly two years, one of the longest stints of any guard unit since Sept. 11, 2001.

Read the rest at the Washington Post