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Student Placido honored Columbia County with contribution to history

A column by Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, who represents Oregon's House District 31


Rainier Junior/Senior High School student David Placido and his history teacher, Andrew Demko, were recently honored at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Placido was one of six students nationwide to be recognized for his outstanding contribution to the Hometown Heroes Service Learning Project. This high school-level program is intended to increase the public’s awareness of the contributions military service members made to our country during the Vietnam War era and to pay homage to their service and many sacrifices.

David Placido’s project focused on one young Marine, Army Sgt. Dennis Edge, who died on the field of battle in a remote jungle half a world away from his hometown of Rainier, Oregon. Only a few years older than Placido is now when he was killed in action, Sgt. Edge’s story of valor and service would likely have been lost to history, were it not for Placido’s project.

Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO - Rep. Brad WittBut Rainier’s Sgt. Edge died in the service of our country while defending his fellow soldiers. His story is not unlike that of the almost 60,000 of his comrades-in-arms who fought and were killed in action in Vietnam. It is a story that needs to be told and a history that must be both venerated and remembered.

Placido did just that well enough to be recognized at the Library of Congress for his contribution towards the preservation of America’s history; pretty heady stuff for a high school sophomore. And in a room filled with congresswomen and men, U.S. senators and dignitaries of every stripe, none were prouder than David’s dad, Jonathan Placido — who is chief warrant officer 4 on the U.S. Coast Guard cutter, Bluebell, based out of Portland — as well as David’s history teacher and mentor, Demko, who was recently named “Outstanding History Teacher” by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

As for me, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to witness David’s award firsthand. As a U.S. history buff and patriotic American, David’s award ceremony gave me goosebumps. When I asked him what he liked best about his tour of Washington, D.C., he showed me an etching that he had made from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial earlier that day. You guessed it, it read “Sgt. Dennis Edge.”

David, you’re an amazing young man. Our nation’s future looks bright in the care and leadership that you and your contemporaries will provide. To Jonathan Placido: “Job well done, dad!” And to my good friend Andy Demko, “Awesome, teach!”

Summer fun

Summer is here and there is a lot going on in our district. I was thrilled to participate in the Clatskanie Fourth of July parade. The day was beautiful and the crowd was enthusiastic. Every year it is a great celebration of what makes us unique and grateful to be Americans, and it is also a chance to reconnect with our neighbors and appreciate living in towns along the Columbia River in beautiful northwest Oregon.

Around the state there are many county fairs and celebrations, including the Columbia County Fair and Rodeo. I was lucky to be at the fair opening ceremonies on July 16. It was a great chance to thank the fair board, volunteers and local veterans who served as the honor guard at the ceremony. It has also been great to hear from all of you. I always try to hear concerns and ideas informally during the summer so that I can best represent you in Salem. You are always welcome to contact me at 503-986-1431 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please share what is on your mind.