High school honors area veterans

Hood River Valley High School students received a living lesson in American patriotism on Nov. 8.

"We are not here this morning to promote war, but we are here to honor those who have answered the call to serve their country when war has been thrust upon us," said history teacher John Brennan, who acted as master of ceremonies for the first Veterans Day assembly held at the school in more than 10 years.

The program was spearheaded by Barbara Hosford, health and physical education teacher, and Wendy Herman, vocational transition technician at Summit Career Center. The two educators decided it would be timely to schedule the program since they had noticed a strong spirit of national loyalty among students since the September terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

"Patriotic education is important so we don't forget the people out there working for us in the trenches," said Hosford.

The 45-minute program was well-received by junior Tyler Monzie.

"I think it's good to support the military because they protect our freedom and peace," said Monzie.

Almost the entire student body responded en masse when Brennan asked them to stand if they had a friend or relative who had served, or was currently enlisted, in the United States Armed Forces.

The backdrop of nine flags to the left of the podium and 11 on the right were set up to symbolize the Sept. 11 tragedy. Brennan educated students in proper flag etiquette during the official presentation of the American emblem by the Hood River National Guard Armory Color Guard.

"When we stand for the National Anthem and face the red, white, and blue, we are not doing so to pay homage to a piece of cloth," said Brennan. "We do so to honor our Founding Fathers, and those whose blood has been spilled from Lexington green to the present time in defense of the freedoms purchased for so high a price."

He briefed students on the continuing "experiment in government" set up by America's founders that has provided generations with the ability to seek "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

"Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble; these were not won by declaration, but by the price of blood," said Brennan.

He told his young audience that Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, was instituted at the close of World War I to remember the "war to end all wars" that, in fact, ushered in the bloodiest and most war torn century in the history of the world.

"It was to be a day to remember those who had sacrificed so much to ensure a lasting peace," said Brennan.

However, he said the name of the national holiday was changed only a few short years later when peace was destroyed by the onset of the three-year Korean War in 1950, followed by the beginning of the 16-year Vietnam War in 1959. A total of 112,000 American lives were lost in those two undeclared wars to stop the spread of Communism, according to Brennan.

In addition to these major military campaigns, he updated students on shorter duration military actions that had been undertaken in Grenada, Kuwait and Panama.

After giving a brief history lesson on each of these conflicts, Brennan introduced the 12 staff members who had served in the military and special guest veterans from major battles of the 20th century.

He strongly urged students to make a special effort to thank veterans of World War II, who once numbered 15 million strong but were now estimated to be dying at the rate of 1,000 people a day.

"I thought it was pretty educational and I think it was cool that so many of the staff served in the military," summed up Napua Wampler, a high school freshman.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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