If you’re looking for a meaningful way to mark Veterans Day this year, consider these five ways to support veterans in your community and around the country.
- Give a veteran a ride to a doctor’s appointment. Many veterans who are disabled or infirm struggle with mobility issues and may not be able to drive themselves around. Consider volunteering for the Department of Veteran Affairs Transportation Network to drive veterans to their medical appointments.
- Raise a service dog. Volunteer to help train a service dog to become a companion for a veteran. Organizations like Patriot Paws raise service dogs to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and physical disabilities.
- Send a thank-you letter or care package. Write letters expressing your thanks to the vets in your life. If you don’t have any veterans in your family, the organization Operation Gratitude can help you send letters and care packages to veterans.
- Participate in a Stand Down event. Stand Downs are events in which services are offered to homeless veterans, including food, clothing, shelter, health screenings, substance abuse treatment and veteran benefits counseling. These events typically last for one to three days. Volunteer to help facilitate a Stand Down event in your community.
- Donate to charities that help veterans. Your donations don’t have to be financial contributions. Organizations like AMVETS and Vietnam Veterans of America will pick up your used clothes and household items to donate or sell at discounted prices to veterans and their families. You can even donate frequent flyer miles to the families of injured veterans so that their loved ones can travel to be with them in military hospitals across the country.
Happy New Year
Wishing you 12 months of success, 52 weeks of laughter, 365 days of fun, 8760 hours of joy, 525600 minutes of good luck and 31536000 seconds of happiness.
Mind your step and the fires, it’s Hogmanay
Light the torches and get out of the house, my friends, this is the month for Hogmanay.
Hogmanay is usually called New Year’s Eve in North America, but in Scotland, where Hogmanay is beloved, it can be a three- to five-day festival of fire and fun that begins with First Footing.
The first person to step over your threshold in the new year is the First Footer and it shouldn’t be just anyone. The First Footer has to be a tall, dark man and he has to step in before anyone else. A blond or red-haired man won’t do and a blond or red-haired woman is actually bad luck.
The requirement for a dark-haired First Footer probably has roots in Scotland’s history. Given the many Viking invasions of the country, there were plenty of times when a tall, blond dude at your door was probably carrying an axe — never a great way to start the year, or anything else.
The good news is that the neighborhood First Footer will bring blessings in the form of small gifts. Wishes for warmth during the year, a piece of coal. For food, shortbread. For the flavor of life, salt. For joy and prosperity, a wee dram of whiskey. Lucky you, if you have a lot of friends bringing blessings.
Later, neighbors and friends drink a toast to the New Year and sing Auld Lange Syne.
After First Footing comes fire, and plenty of it. Scots like fire festivals and they are found throughout the fall until the end of January. For Hogmanay, bonfires burn throughout the country. Revelers in the coastal town of Stonehaven wear kilts and swing big baskets of fire. In Edinburgh, enormous wicker figures (such as a bull) become a towering bonfire amid fireworks. Also in Edinburgh, 15,000 people carry torches through the street, according to Scotland.org.
Winter driving: five tire safety considerations
Good tires that are adapted to winter conditions as well as your vehicle are essential to stay safe on the road throughout the cold season.
Here are five points to consider when it comes time to tire up your car for the winter:
1. Even if there’s no snow in the forecast, it’s a good idea to install winter tires on your car once temperatures reach around 45 °F. Anything colder than that will have a hardening effect on the rubber of summer tires, thus reducing their traction. Winter tires, on the other hand, are designed to maintain optimal flexibility—even on days where the thermometer plummets to -40 °F.
2. Your tires should have a tread depth of at least 6/32?. If they don’t, or if they’re almost worn to the limit, replace them without delay.
3. It’s essential that all four tires on your car be identical and of the correct size. They should also ideally show roughly the same level of wear. If they don’t, install the least-worn tires in the back to maximize your vehicle’s stability.
4. There’s more than one type of winter tire: some are designed for snowy conditions, while others perform better on ice. Make sure that you choose your tires according to the road conditions you’re most likely to encounter.
5. Tire pressure greatly influences your car’s abilities when it comes to braking distance and maneuverability, among others. Regularly ensure that your tires are inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. No more, no less!
Frequent Front Royal visitor shares photo of new friend
Neville Barr, a frequent visitor to Front Royal and the Warren County community, shared a rare, perhaps unique, photograph of his Christmas visitor this year.
For the past several weeks, Neville, of Derby, England, has patiently encouraged a robin, often seen visiting his yard, to take food from his hand. Over the holidays, the bird, smaller than the American version of the robin, began accepting the proffered food and began engaging with his benefactor.
Shortly before Christmas, Neville, the brother of Rockland resident Malcolm Barr Sr., was able to talk the wild bird into posing for a photograph before feasting on food from Neville’s outstretched hand.
And a Merry Christmas from inside the Warren County Government Center
Season’s Greetings from Front Royal’s Town Hall & the WC Courthouse
And from across East Main Street in Historic Downtown Front Royal, seasonal greetings from both sides of the religious-secular fence at the Warren County Courthouse