Memorial Day weaves patriotic theme

June 1, 2005

Hood River County citizens were called to exhibit patriotism that was devoid of “indifference, casualness and cynicism” at Monday’s Memorial Day observance.

Keynote speaker Ed Van Dyke from the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs asked his 250-member audience to remember the sacrifices made by the nation’s founders. He said the signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the creation of a nation that was free of tyranny. In spite of the odds against the “rag-tag” Continental Army, Van Dyke said they prevailed because of their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the ideal that would become the United States of America.

“The exact same qualities — all encompassed by the word ‘patriotism’ — have characterized the American fighting man in all of our nation’s wars,” said Van Dyke. “By honoring the fallen we, in some small measure, repay a portion of the debt we owe to all those who died so that others might live in dignity and freedom.

“Our responsibilities as citizens are clear. Patriotism is the debt we owe to our fallen dead. President Ronald Reagan stated it well at the bicentennial ceremony at Yorktown when he said, ‘Let the struggle that took place here remind us all — the freedom we enjoy today has not always existed, and carries no guarantees. In our search for everlasting peace, let all of us resolve to remain so sure of our strength that the victory for mankind we won here is never threatened’,” continued Van Dyke.

He said true patriotism was not linked only to events and to material things. It involved pride and reverence for the spiritual foundation of the nation and, above all, a deep respect for and a fierce, unyielding desire to maintain America’s hard-won freedom.

The red, white and blue theme of Van Dyke’s message was woven throughout the annual ceremony to honor the country’s war dead.

Mt. View Baptist Church Pastor Jack Williams led a prayer for the military men and women currently serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world. He reminded the large crowd to remember that these members of the armed forces had taken an oath to be their defenders.

A gold star banner fluttered in the brisk breeze next to a field memorial set up near the Veterans Obelisk. American Legion Post 22 Commander Dennis Leonard said the banner portrayed a life lost in war and was intended as a tribute to Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron Boyles, who once lived in Hood River and died on the battlefield in Iraq.

“Veterans must forever keep alive the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Leonard.

Oregon National Guard Master Sgt. Leroy Himes expressed thankfulness that, in spite of differing opinions over America’s war on terrorism, citizens were supportive of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. He contrasted the present day scenario with the political backlash against military personnel during the Vietnam conflict.

“I’m glad to see that American service men and women are not held up to ridicule in these days. I am glad to see that because when soldiers return home, even if not physically injured, they often carry hidden wounds,” said Himes.

He, Leonard and Van Dyke urged the audience to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens and remain patriotic to the idealogies that had created America.

“That is the pledge that we make to our war dead on this beautiful day in May. Having paid the ultimate price for our freedom, they have the right to demand of us that we preserve, cherish and pass on to future generations of Americans their precious legacy,” said Van Dyke.

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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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