VETERANS DAY VIEWS: Let’s show veterans that we care

This is the full text of Legion Post Commander Gary Steele’s 2013 Memorial Day address, words that say something about both U.S. holidays that honor those who served the United States in the military. Steele will speak again Monday in the 11 a.m. service at Anderson Tribute Center:

Thank you for joining us today to honor our veterans for their selfless service to America.

I call your attention to this POW/MIA empty chair.

A POW/MIA empty chair is placed at all official meetings of the American Legion, as a physical symbol of the thousands of American POW/MIAs still unaccounted for from all wars and conflicts involving the United States of America. This is a reminder for all of us to spare no effort to secure the release of any American prisoners from captivity, the repatriation of the remains of those who died bravely in defense of liberty, and a full accounting of those missing. Let us rededicate ourselves for this endeavor.

Let us remain silent for 15 seconds to honor all POWs, MIAs and the veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, in defense of freedom.

Freedom is not free; it comes with great loss and sacrifice.

All of America’s veterans have placed our nation’s security before their own lives, creating a debt we can never fully repay. Our veterans represent the best of America. They deserve the best America can give them.

We owe them more than just a thank you on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We need to serve them in their time of need.

Our veterans return home from foreign shores to find a nation deep in debt, and still in a recession. It is difficult for them to find jobs to support themselves and their family. Many are wounded physically and psychologically. They often find it difficult to receive the promised disability benefits, and give up trying.

How can we help our veterans?

Encourage them to never give up. Suggest they call Veteran Service Coordinator Les Logsdon and make an appointment. If they need a ride, take them to meet with Les.

Les is successful in helping veterans receive their disability benefits and other benefits.

There are other ways we can assist our veterans.

They need a full-time job with a good employer.

Some may need a ride to pick up prescriptions or buy groceries.

Others may need to have their lawn mowed or firewood cut, split and delivered.

Veterans living at the Veterans Home in The Dalles may enjoy a visit.

Veterans and widows of veterans on Hospice care may also enjoy a visit.

I would like to share a story about a homeless Navy veteran who called the American Legion Post 22 in Hood River for help. Rodger Schock picked him up at the hospital and brought him to the Post. Chef Albert Sansour prepared a delicious hot meal for him.

This veteran said he had not taken a shower for four days and needed some clean clothes. I had the privilege to take him to the Good Karma thrift shop. Owners Brent and Cherie gave him free shirts, pants and boots. At his request I took him to The Dalles and paid for a motel room from funds donated from the Legionnaires. He was grateful that we cared enough to help him.

How often do we have an opportunity to help others?

Let’s show our veterans that we really care.

The American Legion was established in 1916 to serve the veterans of World War I. The Legion helped create the Veterans Administration, and was the originator of the G.I. Bill of Rights.

We are veterans still serving America. Our number-one priority is to serve the veterans, their families and their community.

Who is willing to help with this great service?

God bless America, land of the free and home of the brave.

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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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