Archive for Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Chinstraps and Mouthpieces: Preparations for war starting to affect more

February 12, 2003

War could be pounding on Iraqi soil in the coming months, but the conflict already knocked on our door.

As Tonganoxie Elementary faculty and students said so long to teacher and coach Jeremy Goebel last Wednesday, the possible conflict became much more vivid. The 24-year-old teaching rookie was called up to serve in the Army National Guard. Despite being three weeks shy of completing his obligation to the guard, Uncle Sam dialed up Goebel, as he did many personnel across the country.

The wrestling coach received the call after returning from a tournament in Baldwin.

Since then, Goebel's routine changed dramatically.

No longer teaching or instructing youth, Goebel likely will be defending their freedom in the coming months.

Goebel and fiancee Lisa Borg had been planning a big June wedding in Borg's hometown of Falls City, Neb. Last Friday, the couple was wed across the border in nearby Hiawatha before a small group -- including some of Goebel's wrestlers.

After Goebel tends to military issues in Olathe, Mrs. Goebel will say her goodbyes as her husband leaves for a base on the East Coast. The couple will follow through with the planned wedding whenever Goebel returns, which could be anywhere from a few months to a year.

The short and stocky Goebel has cauliflower ears molded from years of wrestling. The first-year coach usually could be found wearing a goatee, but the teacher shaved his facial hair last week, giving him an even younger look.

Goebel's story really isn't uncommon. People are being taken from their everyday lives to prepare for the potential of war.

Police Chief Ken Carpenter was called up Sunday, and now the local law enforcement must adjust as well.

America seems torn on its support of war in Iraq. One minute a Colin Powell presentation to the United Nations seems to be ample evidence for a war effort, while later it seems Bush should temper his apparent desire for conflict.

Whether one thinks war is necessary isn't really the issue. People are serving our country and that should always be commended.

When those people interact with you on a regular basis, however, your patriotism becomes a bit stronger.

A wrestler at Nebraska-Kearney, Goebel has sported UNK attire, but the Nebraska native also had some dreaded Husker garb. On numerous occasions, I made sure he knew of the contempt I had for the Huskers, especially because I grew up so near the Nebraska border.

Now that Goebel quite possibly could be in a war in the Middle East, I wouldn't mind the United States handling Iraq as Nebraska used to handle some cream puff on its football schedule.

That analogy seems a bit outlandish, but then so does war.

I hope this situation will be but a blip on our history screen and Goebel, like so many others people know well, soon will be back to assume his role in Tonganoxie.

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