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Veterans plan thank you barbecue Saturday

Three veterans’ service organizations are observing Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Saturday, Dec. 7, by giving back to the community.

“A nation is only as strong as its citizens,” said Robert “Bob” Maxwell, a Korean War veteran who came up with the idea for “Everyday Heroes Appreciation Day.”

Free hot dogs will be served hot off the grill Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Wasco County Veterans Service Office, 201 Federal St., which will also be open for tours. Russell Jones, a Navy veteran who heads the office, and Patrick Wilbern, intake coordinator and a staff sergeant with the Oregon National Guard, will be present to answer any questions that guests may have.

The barbecue is sponsored by the Mid-Columbia Veterans Memorial Committee, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2471 and American Legion 19, all based in The Dalles. Members of Cub Scout Troops 395 and 398 will also be present to provide assistance.

“This is just acknowledging that we appreciate the people who have supported us, our troops and their families,” said Maxwell. “I have a high respect for anybody who does their duty, whether it’s raising a family or serving in the military, these people are unsung heroes and it’s time to say ‘Thank you.’”

He said the idea for the event came about when he was helping the VFW pass out the bright red poppies that are a reminder of America’s war dead at stores as Veterans Day neared in November. Proceeds from poppy donations help disabled veterans and Maxwell felt grateful for the support shown by the community. He said almost $1,000 was contributed to the program during the few days that VFW members were at work.

“When I was in the service, it was rare for anyone to tell an officer when he was doing a good job so I would do that and encourage the other men to do that. This is the same idea,” said Maxwell, who served on both active-duty and reserve status with the Navy before retiring as a senior chief.

He said Dec. 7 is a good day to gather people together because it is the 72nd anniversary of the attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on U.S. ships anchored at the naval base of Pearl Harbor off the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The bombing of the Pacific fleet left 2,402 sailors dead and led the U.S. into World War II.

Maxwell said during that war, and those that followed, support from home has been the greatest morale booster for troops on the front lines or far away from their families.

“We are all in this together,” he said.

Although donations will be not be allowed Saturday, Maxwell invites veterans to bring a photo, insignia, part of a uniform or another piece of memorabilia from their time in the armed forces to share with others.

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