Washington, Kan. The mayor of this northeastern Kansas town is being criticized for his decision not to attend the deployment ceremony of a local Army Reserve unit as a protest of the war in Iraq.
The controversy started after Mayor Herb Dyck received a letter dated March 7 from the Department of the Army notifying him of the impending mobilization of the 487th Engineering Detachment Army Reserve Unit.
Dyck responded with a letter of his own, saying he respectfully declined to attend the unit's deployment ceremony, which was last Saturday.
"My inclination would be to protest the deployment of these and any other troops for a war against Iraq," Dyck wrote.
Dyck's decision to not sign a letter of support or take part in the ceremony has generated some criticism. Washington resident Leca Good, whose husband is a member of the Reserve unit, expressed her concern in a letter to the editor in the local newspaper.
In the letter, Good asked: "Is this the kind of man we want leading our community? One that cannot put personal feelings aside and go to the ceremony meant to honor the men and women of the city, county, etc., who are going off to battle," she wrote.
"Our voters would serve themselves well to remember the actions of our mayor when Election Day arrives, I know I will!"
Although he doesn't support the deployment, Dyck said that he supports the troops -- but he supports their staying home.
He said that he wished them the best for their safety, but he wished the same for the innocent victims in Iraq.
"My quarrel is not with the men and women" in uniform, Dyck said.
Good said she isn't convinced the U.S. needs to go to war, either.
But she said she fully supports the troops who "have the courage to lay their lives on the line for the blanket of freedom I sleep under every night. To support the troops does not mean to support the war."