Veterans Day speaker shocks to underscore message

Oregon Army National Guard Sergeant William Smith delivered a “shocking” Veterans Day message to the crowd gathered at Hood River’s war memorial.

The keynote speaker began his address on Tuesday by “criticizing” President George W. Bush and the military presence in Iraq. He also “blamed” American international policy for the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks on the East Coast. The confused look on the faces of his audience gave way to smiles and finally to applause as the recruiter from The Dalles explained that his remarks mirrored those of anti-war protesters.

“People have stood on this ground, in front of these bricks, in front of these flags, in front of this memorial and said those very words,” he said. “But what they don’t know is that not a single word of protest has ever created freedom and liberty unless it was backed up in the end by the blood, sweat and tears of the American military.”

Smith challenged the audience to show respect every day to the men and women of the Armed Forces who willingly put their lives on the line to protect citizen freedom, liberty, hope, and the pursuit of happiness.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., who returned to his hometown to pay tribute to local veterans, later voiced his agreement with Smith’s remarks.

“Our military today is made up of men and women who have volunteered to step forward in the cause of freedom and who are taking great risks not only to make our country safer but to secure freedom and peace for people we may never know as Americans,” said Walden, who recently visited Iraq.

The sacrifices made by families of military volunteers was also recognized at the Nov. 11 ceremony. American Legion Post 22 Auxiliary President Leila Crapper presented eight “Blue Star” banners to military mothers. That sacrifice extended not only to military families but American citizens as well, according to Lynn Guenther, a retired Air Force colonel and former POW. He drew applause when he read the inscription on one of the 40 new memorial bricks.

That slab purchased by a Marine Lance Corporal read, “Sept. 11, Never Forget.”

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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