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To the community members who laid wreaths on the tombstones of fallen soldiers Saturday at St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to the country. The local ceremony in North East was one of thousands occurring across the nation at the same time, including at Arlington Cemetery just outside Washington, D.C. Maj. Gen. Mitchell Kilgo, the senior commander of Aberdeen Proving Ground, reminded attendees that freedom does come without a cost. “The greatest mistake as a nation is to take liberty and justice for granted,” he said. “Freedom is a gift. But not one we are entitled to, it’s one that we had to fight for and many have volunteered to continue that fight.” We should express our gratitude year round to those who serve, many of whom have died protecting this nation. But as families gather once again to enjoy the winter holidays with one another, we particularly want to remember those families who will not be able to see some of their loved ones this holiday season — either because those loved ones are actively deployed or because they have tragically been taken from this earth far too soon by the grips of war.

To the many law enforcement officials and volunteers who helped spread joy to 108 Cecil County children in need during Shop with a Cop on Saturday. Each child, guided by a law enforcement official, was given a $300 shopping spree at the Elkton Walmart that they could use to buy any toys and gifts of their choosing. Then, volunteers wrapped the presents so those children would have something to unwrap on Christmas morning. It is true that Christmas is not about the gifts waiting for you under the tree, rather it is about the people you spend the holiday with. But many of us can also remember the pure joy and excitement of tearing into that wrapping paper on Christmas morning to see our favorite toy waiting inside. We are happy that these children will get to experience that too this year.

To the Hogan administration awarding $1.4 million total for three counties to assist Maryland’s homelessness prevention efforts. Meeting Ground, Cecil County’s only emergency homeless shelter, was awarded $376,656 of that funding to hire staff to implement a coordinated point of entry for persons needing service, and for as-needed emergency sheltering. We applaud the state’s efforts to ensure that more people experiencing homelessness can receive the services they deserve.

To North East Middle School being named one of six Maryland/DC State Finalists in the 10th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a nationwide competition that challenges students in grades 6-12 to creatively use STEM skills to address real-world issues in their communities. As one of 300 state finalist schools in the nation, NEMS will receive one Samsung tablet for their classrooms and will be able to advance in the competition with their students for additional prizes. Next up, 100 State Winners will be selected to progress in the competition to vie for national titles and prizes. We wish the best of luck to the North East Bulldogs as they hopefully advance further.

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