Clubs and Organizations Rotary presented
scholarships The Vermillion Rotary Club met at noon Tuesday at its usual venue, the Freedom Forum in the Al Neuharth building on the USD campus. The meeting was opened by President Mary Edelen with the recitation of the Boy Scouts prayer, and songs led by Joe Edelen with Jack Noble accompanying on the piano. It was announced that graduating seniors from VHS, Tia Krier and Philip Munkvold, have each received a $1,000 Rotary Scholarship to help them in graduate studies programs. It was also noted with sadness that longtime Rotary member Jack DeVany has passed away. His funeral was on Tuesday afternoon, and a card of condolence signed by the members will be presented to his family. Vermillion School superintendent, Mark Froke, announced that an extraordinary number of four Vermillion High School graduates are National Merit Scholars, based on very high SAT test scores. Our program was presented by Lt. Tim Fargen of the United States Naval Reserve, who spent the year 2007-08 serving as one of 5,000 U.S. and allied training officers embedded with the Afghan army in its struggle to free Afghanistan from Taliban violence. Lt. Fargen remarked that while the task is exceedingly difficult and requires the use of every skill the soldier can come up with, from diplomacy, to military, to well-digging, that he found it to be the most rewarding year of his life. The task is immense because of the nature of a population of 33 million made up of several tribes with different languages, cultures and religions, living in a diverse area the size of Texas. Furthermore, a large number of its people live on one side of an artificial border with Pakistan while there fellow tribesmen, the Pashtur, live on the other side of that border. Not surprisingly, this border, which is the area in which Osama bin Laden has most likely been hiding, is simply ignored by Pashtur people on either side of it. The situation is further exacerbated by the Afghan agricultural economy which for years had been raising opium poppies for the international drug trade, which is supported by the Taliban. A weak central government makes finding and enforcing working policies in this kind of nation virtually impossible. To help in this situation, the American forces and their allies have worked on everything from replacing poppies as a main crop, to building roads, digging wells and providing educational materials. While there has been some success, the nation certainly has a long way to go; Lt. Fargen estimates at least a generation of American presence will be needed. That amounts to at least 17 or 18 years, since the average age of the Afghan citizen 17.6 years. Lt. Fargen included a lot more detailed information in his program that we can present here. We thank him for a candid report from the front lines of Afghanistan, a report that was very informational, but also sobering. Our meeting was closed with the usual singing of the first stanza of My Country 'Tis of Thee.