What the sun and the moon and Iben Browning failed to do this week, the Army Reserves did.

Browning, a New Mexico climatologist, forecast that alignment of the two planets would create tidal forces so great the Earth would shake and shudder along several fault lines, including the Wasatch Fault.But Monday, while the Earth stood still, the Army Reserves sent rumbles through Utah with news that the government was activating the 700-member 328th General Hospital. The worlds of the men and women of the 328th are still spinning.

Aftershocks continue, spreading like ripples across the smooth surface of our state. Hospitals face staffing shortages, families face lost income and missed loved ones, and the specter of war grows stronger.

Today members of the 328th report to Fort Douglas. Within a week they will likely be half a world away, much closer to Saddam Hussein and the line President George Bush has drawn in the sand than they might care to be.

But they will be there. And they will be ready.

If our armies move, tens of thousands strong, across that desert line, the 328th will be ready. What the worst of war can do to a human body, the 328th and its counterparts will try to undo.

"I hope and pray all of this will be settled and they won't really need us, but if they need us we are the people who are trained to do the job," Linda Jo Nielson, director of nursing at Mountain View Hospital in Payson, said Monday.

The task before them is awesome, and the members of the 328th know it. You could hear it in their voices Monday as they talked about joining Operation Desert Shield. Their voices trembled, were full of shock, but also gave vent to patriotism and a willingness to do what they were asked.

They closed their businesses, packed their bags and held their families close.

The men and women of Utah called to active duty in the Persian Gulf this week celebrated mini-Christmases and will celebrate a mini-New Year's Eve on foreign soil. This holiday season they will long for their families and their friends, for the familiar sights and smells of their hometowns.

And, they will probably pray for peace like no one else. When peace collapses, the men and women of the 328th know it will fall much harder on the soldiers standing right next to President Bush's line in the sand.

Pray with them.