Tag Archives: Christmas

‘Cop Killer’ Manhunt Goes Nationwide

29 Dec

user24036-1388187688-media1
The manhunt for a “cop killer” was expanded today to a nationwide dragnet to find the suspected bank robber who fatally shot a Mississippi police officer two days before Christmas, according to the FBI. Tupelo Police Department officer Gale Stauffer and another officer were hit by gunfire Monday when they confronted suspected bank robbers during their getaway in the city. As the officers approached suspects in a vehicle, which was stuck in traffic at a railroad crossing, at least one of the suspects opened fire at close range, according to an account posted online at the Officer Down Memorial Page. The suspects fled, leaving Stauffer fatally shot and another officer critically wounded Stauffer “has made the ultimate sacrifice for his community,” Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said, urging the public to help “so that the criminal or criminals responsible for this horrendous act can be brought to justice.” After reviewing bank surveillance video from the robbery of a BancorpSouth bank in Tupelo, authorities are looking for a thin, possibly African-American man with light complexion, standing between 5-feet-9 and 6-feet tall, according to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. The suspect seen in the surveillance video was wearing khaki or cargo-style pants, white Converse tennis shoes, a long-sleeved jacket and a blue ski mask, the state public safety department said. A charcoal-colored, medium-sized sedan might have been used as a getaway car. As part of the investigation, authorities also released a photo (shown below) of a “person of interest” standing in what appears to be a convenience store minutes before the robbery at the bank. Police did not discuss any possible connection to the bank shooting.More than 100 agents, officers, deputies and marshals worked through Christmas to track down the suspects, an FBI official said. The FBI, BancorpSouth and others are offering more than $152,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI’s tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
Stauffer was a combat veteran of the Louisiana Army National Guard, and he had served with the Tupelo Police Department for eight years, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
He was married with two young children.

American Legion Says Veterans Denied "Christmas" Cards from School Children

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Handwritten Christmas cards
from schoolchildren were denied distribution to veterans at the Dallas VA Medical
Center this week because they referenced the holiday by name, and American Legion
National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger is not happy about it. Neither is the
Liberty Institute, which has sided with the Legion in opposing a number of other
attempts to prevent free expression of speech and religion.

Also this week, the VA hospital in Augusta, Ga., announced a new policy that turned
away high-school students who intended to sing Christmas carols to veterans, as they
traditionally have in past years. And in Iowa City, American Legion members were
told they could not hand out presents to veterans if the wrapping paper said Merry
Christmas, a problem they solved by filtering the gifts through the VA chaplain.

The American Legion has asked VA Central Office for an explanation of why it appears
that Christians are being singled out for restrictions, especially when the holiday
honors the birth of Jesus Christ.

“First of all, VA’s decision to prohibit the delivery of Christmas cards that
mention Christmas is ludicrous,” Dellinger said today after Texas teacher Susan
Chapman was told Monday that her students’ cards would not be delivered to veterans.
“Second of all, VA has been down this road before, and recently. VA has been warned
through a federal court decree to stop denying freedom of religious expression at
its facilities. It’s pretty obvious the Dallas VA did not get that memo.”

When high school singers arrived last Friday at the Augusta, Ga., VA Medical Center,
officials reportedly gave them a list of 12 approved, secular holiday songs.
Unprepared to sing them, the students opted not to perform. “That’s censorship, pure
and simple,” Dellinger said of the rejected carolers. “Every Christmas, every
religious holiday, Christians are more and more often targeted for censorship and
restriction at VA facilities. Veterans in these hospitals fought to protect such
freedoms.”

Chapman, the wife of a U.S. military veteran, has requested that the Dallas VA
Medical Center immediately rescind its discriminatory policy and allow her and her
students – and any others in the future – to distribute Christmas cards
that say “Merry Christmas” or “God Bless You” or mention Jesus. Writing to VA
Secretary Eric Shinseki and VA North Texas Health System Director Jeffery L.
Milligan, Liberty Institute set a deadline of Friday, Dec. 27, for confirmation in
writing “that Mrs. Chapman and her students may distribute cards that contain the
phrase ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘God Bless You,’ or that contain other religious
references to veterans at the Medical Center and at all other VA hospitals, and that
the holiday card policies of the Department and the Medical Center (are) brought in
line with applicable law.”

“Of course, for this year’s schoolchildren, it’s a little late, and that’s really
disappointing,” said Dellinger, who leads the 2.4-million-member American Legion,
largest veterans organization in the country. “VA needs to let those children
deliver cards to the veterans now, and those who wrongly banned them owe an apology
to the children, the teacher and the veterans who were supposed to get them Monday.
This is a clear case of discrimination on the basis of religious expression; the
courts have already ruled that such policies are unconstitutional. The American
Legion fully concurs with that interpretation.”

Merry Christmas . . .

25 Dec A Christmas Story Comes Home

The Northwest Indiana Gazette wishes each and every one of you a Merry Christmas. We pray that there is no news today that is important enough to warrant breaking this solemn occasion. We celebrate the birth of Christ in our homes and we welcome those who join us in doing so. We also welcome those who do not, and simply hope that today may be a day of peace and reflection on the message of redemption that Jesus Christ brought. So to the non-Christian we say Merry Christmas in the spirit of love, redemption and hope. Lets move on to 2014 in peace, having turned the mistakes of 2013 into lessons.

Indiana Conservation officer saves Christmas

22 Dec

Yesterday evening, shortly before 7:00 PM, EST, Josh Byrd, Pike County Highway Superintendent, was placing road barriers on flooded Pike County Road 900 East, when he heard calls for help coming from out in the flood waters. He then contacted Pike County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch. The call came at 6:52 PM. The Jefferson Township Fire Department, Pike County Deputies, and Indiana Conservation Officers responded to the scene.
Conservation Officers Jon Watkins and Shane Cooper had been responding to similar flood related calls throughout the afternoon and were equipped to address this type of emergency. Arriving at the scene, they were able to launch their patrol boat from the roadway and begin a search of the flooded corn field. Christmas was found around 9:30 PM, approximately 100 yards into the flood waters, clinging onto a bridge abutment. By the time of the rescue, he had been in the flood waters about three hours.
According to the victim, Christmas was on his way home from where he worked in Otwell and decided to attempt to ride his 4-wheeler through the flooded roadway. As the water became deeper near a bridge, he decided to turn around. His vehicle began to float and got caught in the current separating Christmas from his 4-wheeler. Christmas was carried some distance with the current until he was able to latch onto some vegetation and regain his footing. Due to the darkness he was unable to find high ground. Now barefoot, he returned to the bridge, the only high point he knew.
Michael D. Christmas, 30, of Velpen Indiana. was transported to Jasper Memorial by Pike County Ambulance where he was treated for hypothermia and released.

Pet Photos With Santa at South Shore CVA 12/11 and 12/18

3 Dec A Christmas Story Comes Home

Gazette Staff

The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority will once again be holding Wag Your Tail Wednesdays in conjunction with the “A Christmas Story” Comes Home exhibit. On Wednesday Nov. 27, Dec. 11, and Dec. 18 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., well-behaved cats and dogs will be able to have their picture taken with Santa.
This unique opportunity is offered for $5 per photo and will directly benefit a local animal rescue. Participants are encouraged to bring in donations for the organizations. Additionally, $1 from each pet photo will be donated to the rescue.

In addition to Wag Your Tail Wednesdays, Santa will begin visiting the Indiana Welcome Center on Friday, Nov. 29 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Visitors will be able to get their photo taken atop Santa’s Mountain from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays leading up to Christmas. Before his yearly flight around the world, Santa will be at the Indiana Welcome Center on Dec. 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Dec. 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for photos. Each 4×6 photo costs $5.

The “A Christmas Story” Comes Home exhibit, which is presented in agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will run through Sunday, Jan. 5. The Indiana Welcome Center is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located at the intersection of I-80/94 and Kennedy Avenue South in Hammond.

For more information on Wag Your Tail Wednesdays, photos with Santa, the exhibit, weekend and holiday hours or special events, contact Bethany Randolph, special events and services manager for the South Shore CVA, at 219-554-2229 or visit http://www.achristmasstorycomeshome.com.

A Christmas Story Exhibit to be Featured at Riley Children's Hospital

27 Nov A Christmas Story Comes Home

Gazette Staff

A window scene from the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority’s annual “A Christmas Story” Comes Home exhibit will be spending this holiday season at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

According to Speros A. Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore CVA, the organization wanted to share Northwest Indiana’s holiday cheer with the hospital.

“Watching the holiday classic ‘A Christmas Story’ has become tradition for many families. We wanted to provide Riley Hospital for Children’s patients and families the chance to experience the annual exhibit during their time at Riley,” said Batistatos.

In addition to providing one of the window scenes for display, the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority will be coordinating several special events. The special events will offer patients and families the opportunity to experience Christmas traditions while at Riley Hospital for Children.

The “A Christmas Story” Comes Home exhibit, which is presented in agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will open at the Indiana Welcome Center on Saturday, Nov. 9 and run through Sunday, Jan. 5. The Indiana Welcome Center is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located at 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond, Indiana 46323.

For more information on the exhibit, weekend and holiday hours, special events, or the partnership with Riley Hospital for Children, contact Bethany Randolph, special events and services manager for the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, at 219-554-2229 or visit www.AChristmasStoryComesHome.com

More about the "buy Indiana Christmas Tree "

25 Nov

Earlier I posted about the Indiana
Christmas tree program.To locate an
Indiana tree farm that participates
**here**
The original story:
**here**

Indiana Deployed Soldiers Receive Christmas Trees from Home

25 Nov

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Indiana Army National Guardsmen from the 38th Sustainment Brigade received Hoosier-grown Christmas trees, donated by the Indiana Christmas Tree Grower Association, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Dec. 13.

“It is always good to have a piece of home and the Christmas trees do that for us here,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Vedder, 38th SB’s deputy commander from Lafayette, Ind. “We just want to express a warm thanks to all those folks that made this possible and thinking about us this holiday season.”

The Indiana Christmas Tree Grower Association has been sending trees abroad for the last six years and donated 300 trees as part of the 2012 Trees for Troops project. The trees were shipped from Indiana on Nov. 20, with a partnership with FedEx Corporation according to their website http://www.indianachristmastree.com.

“It’s a great show of Hoosier hospitality and patriotism of the Christmas tree growers of Indiana and shipping trees over here to Hoosiers,” said Col. Deedra Thombleson, 38th SB commander from Martinsville, Ind.

The 38th SB picked up the trees from the Camp Virginia USO. The USO received the trees to pass out to service members throughout Kuwait. The USO has been working with the Trees for Troops to spread the Christmas cheer to deployed men and women.

Keon Moore, the assistant logistics manager for the USO at Camp Virginia, said he enjoyed being part of giving trees to service members and doing “something to make you feel like it’s Christmas. That is an awesome feeling for us. We appreciate you guys being happy.”

Eighteen Christmas trees are being displayed outside the 38th SB’s work tents. The Soldiers will be decorating the trees for a little friendly competition among the sections. Each section was encouraged to be creative with decorating the trees.

Sgt. Rhandi Thomas, medic from Portland, Ind., said she was ready to decorate her section’s Christmas tree and that the contest makes it even better.

“I think it is amazing. If we are going to be here at Christmas time we might as well have fun with it.”

“I think it draws them closer to the holidays and brings them back to their roots of Indiana. It will increase the morale and just seeing them smile as they decorate the trees. They are now playing Christmas music in their tents. It will raise their spirit and morale around the holidays,” said Thombleson.

The soldiers of the 38th expressed how thankful they were to have the trees. Sgt. Wolgan Ramos, administrative specialist from Van Buren, Ind., “I would like to thank the people that were responsible for making this happen. Our section is very excited to get these trees. The smell of that fresh pine too; it just really hits you and you really can’t get that smell around here.”

Indiana Army National Guardsman Sgt. Rhandi Thomas, medic from Portland, Ind., gets in the Christmas spirit while decorating her section’s medical-themed Christmas tree on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The 38th Sustainment Brigade based in Kokomo, Ind., received Christmas trees from the Indiana Christmas Tree Grower Association. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tina R. Eichenour, 38th Sustainment Brigade)   Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/image/803490/hoosier-christmas-trees-overseas#.UpQU2MSsiSo#ixzz2licG8bKn

Indiana Army National Guardsman Sgt. Rhandi Thomas, medic from Portland, Ind., gets in the Christmas spirit while decorating her section’s medical-themed Christmas tree on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The 38th Sustainment Brigade based in Kokomo, Ind., received Christmas trees from the Indiana Christmas Tree Grower Association. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tina R. Eichenour, 38th Sustainment Brigade)

Buy In Indiana Christmas Tree program

25 Nov

Buying a real tree from an Indiana tree farm is a great way to bring holiday cheer into your home. Not too many Hoosiers roast their chestnuts on an open fire anymore, but plenty are reclaiming the tradition of having an all natural, living, breathing, Christmas tree in their home this holiday season. Unlike artificial trees, which are usually made of petroleum based products and smell the same way a plastic shoe horn smells, a real Christmas tree can fill your home with fresh air and can even be recycled. Even after you cut the tree down and put it in your house, it continues to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen as long as it has a fresh water supply to keep it alive.
 Plus, when you buy a tree from an Indiana tree farm, you are keeping a local farmer in business.  Instead of starting the holiday season waiting in long lines while still recovering from a turkey feast, why not pile the family into the car and head to a nearby tree farm? After picking out your own tree, you can bring it home and let its fragrance fill your home with the fresh scent of winter conifer.
 After all the presents have been opened and the tinsel packed away until next year, your tree can continue on its journey as it’s recycled into mulch. Most communities in the state have a program where residents can drop off a tree, and receive free mulch next spring for use in gardens and landscaping projects.
 

The American Vet

21 Nov

Two of our readers have sent poems about american Vets during this holiday season.

sent by Karen Shaffer
T’WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,
HE LIVED ALL ALONE,
IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE,
MADE OF PLASTER AND STONE.

I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY,
WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,
AND TO SEE JUST WHO,
IN THIS HOME, DID LIVE.

I LOOKED ALL ABOUT,
A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS,
NOT EVEN A TREE.

NO STOCKING BY MANTLE,
JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,
ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES,
OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.

WITH MEDALS AND BADGES,
AWARDS OF ALL KINDS,
A SOBER THOUGHT,
CAME THROUGH MY MIND.

FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT,
IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,
I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER,
ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.

THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING,
SILENT, ALONE,
CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR,
IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.

THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE,
THE ROOM IN DISORDER,
NOT HOW I PICTURED,
A TRUE US SOLDIER.

WAS THIS THE HERO,
OF WHOM I’D JUST READ?
CURLED UP ON A PONCHO,
THE FLOOR FOR A BED?

I REALIZED THE FAMILIES,
THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,
OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS,
WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.

SOON ROUND THE WORLD,
THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,
AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE,
A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.

THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM,
EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,
BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS,
LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.

I COULDN’T HELP WONDER,
HOW MANY LAY ALONE,
ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE,
IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.

THE VERY THOUGHT BROUGHT,
A TEAR TO MY EYE,
I DROPPED TO MY KNEES,
AND STARTED TO CRY.

THE SOLDIER AWAKENED,
AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,
“SANTA DON’T CRY,
THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;

I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM,
I DON’T ASK FOR MORE,
MY LIFE IS MY GOD,
MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS..”

THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER,
AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,
I COULDN’T CONTROL IT,
I CONTINUED TO WEEP.

I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS,
SO SILENT AND STILL,
AND WE BOTH SHIVERED,
FROM THE COLD NIGHT’S CHILL.

I DID NOT WANT TO LEAVE,
ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT,
THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR,
SO WILLING TO FIGHT.

THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER,
WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,WHISPERED, “CARRY ON SANTA,
IT’S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE.”

ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH,
AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND,
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT.”

sent by Roger Growden:
He was getting old and paunchy,
and his hair was falling fast,

He sat around the “Legion”,
telling stories of the past.


Of a war that he once fought in,
and the deeds that he had done,

Of his exploits with his buddies;
they were heroes, every one.


‘tho sometimes to his neighbors his tales became a joke,

All his buddies listened quietly,
for they knew what of he spoke.


But we’ll hear his tales no longer,
for ol’ Joe has passed away,

And the world’s a little poorer,
for a Veteran died today.


He won’t be mourned by many,
just his children and his wife.

For he lived an ordinary,
very quiet sort of life.


He held a job and raised a family,
going quietly on his way;

And the world won’t note his passing,
‘tho a Veteran died today.


When politicians leave this earth,
their bodies lie in state,

While many note their passing,
and proclaim that they were great.


Papers tell of their life stories from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Veteran goes unnoticed, and unsung.


Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land,
of someone who breaks his promise and deceives his fellow man?


Or the ordinary fellow, who in times of war and strife,

Goes off to serve his country and offers up his life?


The politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives,

Are often disproportionate,
to the service that he gives.


While the ordinary Veteran,
who offered up his all,

Is paid off with a medal,
and perhaps a pension, small.


It is not the politicians with their compromise and ploys,

Who won for us the freedom that our country now enjoys.


Should you find yourself in danger,
with your enemies at hand,

Would you really want some cop-out,
with his ever-waffling stand?


Or would you want a Veteran,
his home, his country, his kin?

Just a common Veteran,
who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Veteran,
and his ranks are growing thin,

But his presence should remind us we may need his likes again.
 For when countries are in conflict,
we find the Veteran’s part,

Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.


If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise,

Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.


Perhaps just a simple headline in the paper that might say:

“OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A VETERAN DIED TODAY.”