Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oregon National Guard helps celebrate 150 years of statehood

Over the weekend, about a thousand Oregonians helped celebrate the 150th anniversary of statehood at a gala event in Salem, Ore., which also happened to fall on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14.

The 1859-themed party at the Salem Convention Center also coincided with the Oregon National Guard's Senior Leader's Conference and annual Military Ball, which was attended by many Oregon Air and Oregon Army National Guard members and their spouses.

Oregon's Governor, Theodore R. Kulongoski, and Oregon's First Lady, Ms. Mary Oberst, the Chair of the Oregon 150 Committee, were also in attendance.

Many senior leaders of the Oregon National Guard, including Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, the Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, Oregon Air Guard Commander, Brig. Gen. Bruce Prunk, and Adjutant General Deputy Director and Commander of the State Defense Force, Brig. Gen. Michael Caldwell, helped celebrate the state's sesquicentennial.

Maj. Gen. Raymond Rees, joined Spc. Alex Amen of Oregon's 234 Army Band, and Gov. Ted Kulongoski, during the cake-cutting ceremony. The trio used a saber to cut the birthday cake following official remarks which kicked off the Oregon Ball.

"Oregon's Own" 234 Army Band played "Big-Band" tunes upstairs, an 1859 band played music of the era in the downstairs ballroom, while period correct dancers twirled the night away. While Oregon Guard soldiers and airmen wore their "Mess Dress" uniforms, many attendees took the 1859 theme seriously.

Costumes ranged from Civil War soldiers and Pioneer gentlemen to women in crenolined skirts and period-correct ball gowns that would have made Scarlett O'Hara blush. The mix of cocktail dresses, formal gowns, top hats and military uniforms made for a surreal scene, but according to some ball-goers, a "roaring good time".

A silent auction, held in the convention center's foyer, displayed many works by local painters, photographers and sculptors. Proceeds from the auction went to benefit the Oregon National Guard Association Education Fund--an organization which benefits Oregon Guard members and their dependents for continuing education endeavors.

According to CW3 Diane Beach, six $1,500 scholarships were awarded to guard members and their dependents this year. The awards are a direct result of fundraising efforts by the association, including events like the auction and military ball, she said.

Governor Kulongoski spoke of Oregon's pioneer spirit as the basis for the state's strength and resilience, but called upon that same strength and ingenuity to weather the current national financial crisis and rising unemployment. He challenged all Oregonians to work together to help build the foundation for another prosperous 150 years.

To see more photos from the event, visit the Salem Statesman Journal website here. To find out more about Oregon's sesquicentennial observations throughout 2009, go here.

To see the entire calendar of events celebrating Oregon's sesquicentennial, go here.

Photos courtesy of Salem Statesman Journal.com. Oregon 150 header courtesy of Oregon150.org.
If you have photos from the Oregon 150 Ball, please share them with us! Send them to: oregonmildep@gmail.com, or post them here with your comments.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Emerging Digital Media Manager, Oregon Military Department


dbd21029 said...

What was the web site for the photographer who took photos at the Feb ball?. D B Davis, II, Capt MC USN ret

Oregon Military Department said...

Shelly Davison. See her website at: http://davisondesign.net/Contact.htm