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Honor Flight Fundraising Success

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Top Row:  Josh Wallis, Makena Presnell, Marissa Montgomery, Emma Weisz, Logan Finney, John Nitcy, Advisor. Bottom Row:  Madie Slaton, Mia Schroeder, Alison Calvert, Maria Henderson Top Row: Josh Wallis, Makena Presnell, Marissa Montgomery, Emma Weisz, Logan Finney, John Nitcy, Advisor. Bottom Row: Madie Slaton, Mia Schroeder, Alison Calvert, Maria Henderson

On Saturday, April 20, I had the privilege of attending the showing of the movie, Honor Flight. This event was put on by the Sandpoint High School Chapter of the Honor Flight program to raise money so they could send area WWII veterans to Washington, DC. For those of you unfamiliar with the Honor Flight program. I’ll give a brief thumbnail of what it does. The program raises money nationwide to transport WWII veterans to Washington, DC so they can visit the WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

The SHS Honor Flight chapter’s president is an exchange student from Germany and she ‘gets it.’ She is much too young to even know people who remember WWII, but she has grown up in a free and reunified Germany that has benefitted from all that preceded the birth of her generation. She is ably supported by at least eight other students.  I wanted to give them the recognition they deserve but was unable to get their names prior to deadline. These students deserve a big round of applause.

All the money raised is used to pay the airfare, lodging and in-town transportation of these veterans. John Nitcy, Sandpoint High School computer instructor, told me that with the three showings on Friday and the one on Saturday that I attended, they raised $3,876.30. That’s enough money to send three area WWII veterans on an upcoming flight. That is wonderful, but many more will still be on the waiting lists. These waiting lists are problematic for the simple reason that many of these veterans may die before their name comes to the top of the list. 

As I mentioned in last month’s article, over 700 WWII veterans die every day nationwide. Here in Idaho that means we are losing an average of two per day. It is imperative that we act quickly to honor these heroes before it is too late. They have earned this recognition as we, as the recipients of their efforts, must honor that debt. If anyone feels moved to contribute to this worthy cause, you should contact John Nitcy at SHS. I feel positive that John would gladly accept any contribution.

Another bit of interest that came to my attention was a flyer I received from Outdoor Line, a Seattle radio program (found online at www.theoutdoorline.com.) They are offering a chance for wounded combat veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation New Dawn to go fishing for salmon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca out of Everett, Wash. Called the “Salmon for Soldiers fishing event,” this is a special deal not just for those physically wounded during those operations, but also for those suffering from PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injuries. The deal goes like this: Free chartered fishing vessels, fishing equipment, bait and instruction. The individual veteran is responsible for lodging (two nights), fishing license, meals and any incidentals. This excursion is scheduled for August 10, 2013. For more information contact Joe Dumlao at (509) 893 or email at eliseo.dumlao(at)va.gov

On Monday, Memorial Day (May 27), the DAV will be once again handing out Forget-Me-Nots. You’ll see volunteers ‘shaking their cans’ at most of the supermarkets around Sandpoint. All donations received during this once--a-year event stay here in the area to support the DAV van that shuttles veterans to their appointments at the VA Medical Center in Spokane, Wash. at zero cost to the veteran.

After the embarrassing display of cowardice by the U.S. Senate in mid-April over the proposed ‘Background Check’ bill, I have been closely watching how the various veterans groups feel about this issue. VoteVets.org—an offshoot of the IAVA—issued a press release that said, in part, “After last week’s Senate vote, veterans still need more rigorous background checks to carry a weapon in Iraq than criminals and the mentally ill need to purchase one at home.” If anyone fails to see the irony in this situation, they are blind. We ask our best and brightest to voluntarily subject themselves to a more rigorous set of background checks to defend our country than we ask of criminals and the mentally ill.

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords—who’ll you remember was almost killed in Arizona—said it best in her New York Times op-ed, “If we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress… To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way.” We must not let these craven toadies off the hook. Their spineless performances must not be allowed to stand unchallenged. We must remember their names when the primary elections next come up. We must also remember that elections are often won or lost not in the general elections of November but the primaries held earlier in the year. 

This isn’t about gun rights—this is about common sense. This isn’t about the fear of a national gun registry. It’s about protecting American lives. If our elected representatives are so disconnected from the vast majority of the population—90 percent of Americans say they support extended background checks according to a Washington Post-ABC poll, and those results have been replicated in other major polls—then they need to be replaced at the earliest opportunity.

I think it is time to put ‘public service’ back in the job description of our elected public servants. They should not be the lackeys of special interests, nor should they be the toadies of the ‘gun lobby’ or ‘big oil’ or any other well-funded lobbying group. They are sent to Washington, DC to represent ALL of their constituents, not just the select few. 

I’ll be very interested in seeing what transpires over the next few months. Will our Senators and Congressmen finally do something for the good of the vast majority of the population? Or will they continue to listen solely to the moneyed groups that keep them in office year after year? Only time will tell.

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Author info

Gil  Beyer Gil Beyer A 21 year Navy veteran, lived in Bonner County for over 30 years, Past Commander of the Priest River DAV Chapter and admitted news junkie.

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Sandpoint High School, Veterans News, Honor Flight

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