The New Heroes

Memorial Day gains tragic dimension

By Richard Santos

National Commander of the American Legion

One year ago, we were a nation at peace, but not now. A short year ago, Blue Star Service Banners were lost in the memories of a half-century ago, but not now.

On Memorial Day 2002, I see more and more Blue Star Service Banners in front windows of houses and businesses across America. A banner reminds us that a loved one from that family is serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, fighting terrorism in Operation Enduring Freedom and providing homeland defense. Unfortunately, Gold Star Banners are replacing some of the blue.

Today’s men and women sent into harm’s way differ little from the doughboys who fought in the trenches of France, the GI’s who stormed the beaches of Normandy, or the troops who bought inches of land with blood at Korea’s Chosin Reservoir.

Indeed, they are no different than the millions of men and women who have answered the clarion call throughout American history. As did those before them, today’s men and women that we honor did their duty. Regrettably, we must now add 3,000 more names to the list of our honored dead.

Some of the honored dead were in the Armed Forces, but some were not. Each was on the frontlines of the terrorist assault on America. All lost their lives on Sept. 11 or the days following. It is fitting that, as we remember the military men and women who died in service to America, we also — just this once — remember as well the first casualties of the War on Terrorism. They are also American heroes who died in the line of duty. They gave their all in service to their country as surely as if they had been on the frontlines of Afghanistan.

Again, young Americans, wearing the uniforms of our armed forces, are fighting in a war without borders and without clearly identified combatants. Some of them have given the supreme sacrifice for our nation. We are thankful that we are a nation that does not forget ... that we are a people who remember and honor the memory of those who died fighting the enemies of the United States — wherever and whenever they threaten.

On this Memorial Day I ask all citizens of this great land to remember the sacrifice of more than one million Americans whose memory we honor today.

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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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