Our Voice: Thanks for homecomings and continued learning

Welcome home

The story of Marine Lance Cpl. Casey Allison gives us lots of things to be thankful for.

Foremost, we are grateful for the men and women who serve our country. It's asking a lot of people to risk their lives and limbs.

Many people answer the call of duty. We don't recognize each one in this column, but we appreciate their service.

In Allison's case, he was injured in Afghanistan after stepping on a improvised explosive device in January. He has been in rehabilitation for four months, learning to navigate on a prosthetic leg.

It's one of those things that unless you've been there, you really can't understand. But we appreciate the range of emotional and physical challenges he must be facing.

We're grateful for his sacrifice.

We also are amazed by medical devices and the science behind them that make a reality out of what used to be the stuff of science fiction. Some prosthetics now use hydraulics and microprocessors, in addition to high-tech materials.

We're grateful to the medical and scientific community that improves people's mobility and quality of life.

Allison was met at the airport by friends, family and the Patriot Guard Riders. The Riders are flag-bearing motorcycle riders whose main purpose is to honor and protect families of fallen servicemen and women, typically at a funeral. One of their purposes is to shield families from any protesters.

In the past several years, the local chapter has participated in a handful of funerals, always at the family's invitation. Being able to engage in a homecoming was a different kind of experience for the group.

Summer camps

Thank you to Chancellor H. Keith Moo-Young for bringing summer camps back to Washington State University Tri-Cities.

After 13 years, the popular camps were discontinued in 2011. When Moo-Young took the university's reins, he made it a priority to bring the camps back to the campus.

These camps keep kids mentally engaged during the so-called summer slump. They foster a curiosity that may last well beyond the end of August.

And because the camps are held on the university's campus, they help create and reinforce ties that will encourage kids to attend college and may even play a role when it comes times to choose where they will study.

The camps are popular with parents and kids. Many of them are STEM-heavy -- meaning they emphasize science, technology, engineering and math.

We're grateful to have WSU's camps back on the menu of options. But let's not limit summer learning to kids at camp. In this community, education really is a cradle-to-grave year-round quest.