Monday, January 24, 2005

Signs of the Times

A local company (in the Rock River Valley) is making signs for the Iraqi elections.

MACHESNEY PARK -- Signs made in the Rock River Valley will let Iraqis know their polling places are safe as they vote next week during national elections.

The iridescent signs were printed by Interstate Graphics Inc., a nearly 20-year-old printing company in Machesney Park owned by John Norwood Sr. and his sons, John and Jim.

The U.S. government awarded the Norwoods the job Dec. 29 with a tight deadline -- the 8,000 signs had to arrive in Fort Lewis, Wash., on or before Jan. 7. From there, they would go on a plane bound for Iraq.

"The U.S. government puts out the order, and you roll the dice and bid," John Norwood Sr. said. "Our competitive price and the quick turnaround on the order was a big part of the deal."
The signs will be used to mark and seal polling places that have been inspected for weapons and bombs. The signs which can be seen here. The logo on the signs is a yellow lightening bolt on a red background. The design looked familiar to a local resident.
To his surprise, John Norwood Sr. [President of the Sign company] received a call from Belvidere resident Elaine Huska this week after she saw the signs on TV. The Norwoods didn't know much about the sign's design, but Huska told them the illustration is the symbol for the 25th Infantry Division (Light) from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

The division is nicknamed the "Tropic Lighting," and has fought in every major conflict since World War II. The taro leaf pictured is native to Hawaii, and the red and gold colors are those of the late Hawaiian monarchy, according to the division's Web site.

Huska's son, 25-year-old Sgt. Kenneth O'Dell Jr., is a member of the division. He enlisted during high school and was wounded in September after an explosion in Iraq.

Seeing the signs reminded Huska of her son and gave her renewed hope in the army's efforts.

"I recognized it immediately and said, 'That's Kenny's insignia,'" Huska said. "I told him this is what you were fighting for. It's amazing. He really believes in what they're doing over there."
Now our local paper (The Rockford Register Star) has not been too supportive of the war. But stories like this, the President's recent Democracy and Freedom speech, the picture of election workers killed in the streets of Baghdad, and the Z-Man's announcement about being against democracy has started to turn their thinking.

About time.

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