Honoring America's freedom

Quiet service at Overlook Park pays respect to military men and women

Quiet and brief, Monday’s Veterans Day observance in Hood River lacked the awaited jet flyover but was grounded in reverence and respect.

More than 200 people, ranging from veterans with canes to six-year-old Cub Scouts, stood or sat at Overlook Memorial Park as the community paid its respects to America’s veterans.

As pastor Michael Harrington said in his invocation, “Never forget the sacrifices that were made so we can enjoy this freedom of ours.”

Guest speaker RaeLynn Gill, a “Marine Mom,” called on the crowd to learn about the sacrifices that went into the founding of the American republic, and to remember the dedication that soldiers give from the day they start training.

Her son, Jesse, 20, last summer completed basic training in what she called “the toughest boot camp in the US. Armed Forces.” He is currently a student at Oregon State University.

“Those soldiers are protecting the freedoms and civil rights they’re giving up while doing the training,” Gill, who is a reporter for the Hood River News. “They do so in the same spirit of sacrifice that created the greatest country on earth.”

Gill said, “Today my heart goes out to the other mothers and fathers of men and women in military service. As a Marine Mom I know my son is ready to be called upon to give his life to protect our freedoms.” Gill also has a son, Luke, 19, who is a student at Eastern Washington State University.

Gill noted that 1.4 million people have died in military service since the War of Independence.

“We need to never forget those ultimate sacrifices that have been made by those men and women and their families,” she said.

Gill recounted sending her son off to camp with a bag of toiletries and $20 and nothing else, and then rejoicing as well as worrying over letters home.

“I particularly looked forward to the letters home,” she said. “It brought tears to my eyes to read those letters,” as Jesse recounted the physical and emotional rigors of boot camp.

“Please remember the heroes and the fellow soldiers who loved this nation by showing their patriotism with active service,” she said.

“Whether or not you agree with the (government’s) policies, the people in the military service need our respect,” Gill said, to applause from the crowd.

“It’s easy to engage in a political discussion in the warmth of your home over a hot cup of coffee,” she went on. “But remember it’s the men and women of the armed services that have given you that freedom to sit there and know you’re protected.”

“We need to be sure we thank (the veterans) who are here today. Remember the heroes — the people whose names are inscribed on the post behind me,” Gill said, pointing to the memorial stone with the names of Hood River County’s military fallen.

“Walk away knowing that (members of the military) start their sacrifice on your behalf from day one,” she said.

Matt Ihle of Hood River brought his two sons, Luke, 8, and David, 4, to hear such a message.

“I think it’s imporant that they understand that their privileges have been bought with a price,” Ihle said.

Luke said, “I thought the speeches were cool — especially the one about boot camps.”

Veterans Harvey Crapper and Jerry Willis both praised the service at Overlook Park.

“I thought it was a very good service. And it was a good sized crowd,” said Crapper, a veteran of the Coast Guard in War II, former Hood River Legion post commander, and 57-year member of the post.

Willis, who described his military service as “on the edge of ‘Nam and just before it,” served in the Navy in the Caribbean as an electrician’s mate during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Willis was aboard a vessel that helped escort Soviet ships carrying missiles out of Cuba.

“It was almost a war. You didn’t know what would happoen next,” he said.

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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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