National Guard troops are being mobilized around the United States to provide added security at installations like airports.
There were tearful farewells as these part-time soldiers assembled at armories in the Inglewood and Los Alamitos sections of Los Angeles.
Called away from their usual jobs in factories and offices, the part-time soldiers will help with what is called Homeland Defense. They will remain on active duty for six months or more.
National Guardsman Rene Ybarra admitted he is reluctant to leave his family. "I don't want to go, to be honest with you. But if I don't, who will?," Ybarra said.
Another National Guard member, Francisco Uribe, agrees. "Hey, somebody's got to do it," Uribe said.
More than 2,000 members of the California National Guard have been mobilized so far, together with thousands of other reservists around the United States. They are stationed at airports, military or government installations.
Normally, these men and women serve one weekend each month and undergo two weeks of additional training every summer. Staff Sergeant Thomas Murotake of the California National Guard says they are called by the state governor in times of emergency, such as forest fires or earthquakes. "But during times of great national emergency, the President of the United States can federalize the National Guard to provide additional homeland defense or even additional military forces around the world, wherever they may need to be," Murotake said.
In the wake of the terror attacks September 11th, President Bush ordered the mobilization of up to 50,000 Guardsmen and other reservists. More than 30,000 have been called to active duty so far.
The California troops will train in Colorado. They will probably guard facilities in the Western United States, but could be sent overseas at the request of the President.