A lot of small towns have been hit hard by the war in Iraq, as a lot of their police officers and firefighters also tend to be members of the National Guard and have been getting called up.
One such town is Stewartstown, NH, where the chief is also a sergeant in the NH National Guard. He was called up and sent to Iraq, where he was wounded and is now home recovering.
While he was gone, the town leaders decided to hire a full-time replacement for him. They sent Brendan McKeage a letter in Iraq informing him of this, but offered to keep him on as a patrolman on his return.
To their credit, the residents of Stewartstown unanimously denounced the move and censured the entire board of selectmen.
The legality of the town’s move is being investigated — one is not supposed to permanently replace a Guardsman while they are on active duty — but the fact remains that regardless of the letter of the law, what the selectmen did was reprehensible.
I have a strong suspicion that there will be a few new candidates for the next election for selectman rolls around in Stewartstown…