Community members react to national situation
- Pamplin Media
- Central Oregonian - Features
>Five members of the community speak out about their feelings and observations regarding the changing national climateScott Cooper, 37, Crook County Judge. He is a former Prineville city councilor and Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce Director. Raised and educated in Prineville, Scott's family is also from the area.
"The events of Tuesday left all of us feeling a little smaller and little more vulnerable. Naively, we have tended in the past to think that our country because of its size, wealth, power and history is isolated from the problems of the rest of world. We don't think that anymore.
"Conversely, our former worries about whether the patriotism of this nation is intact or not have been wiped away. As I drove around Prineville in the aftermath of Tuesday's events, I was overwhelmed with the demonstrations of the American spirit that I saw everywhere.
"Tiny, plastic flags flew in people's front flower beds. Bigger flags flew in their driveways. The children at Crooked River Grade School proudly turned the windows on the west end of intermediate building into a construction paper flag, while veterans lined the west Y with flags.
"Crook County residents showed their solidarity at candlelight vigils, church services and the dedication of the POW/MIA memorial. Terrorists thought they could break the American spirit through their evil acts. They should be trembling in the face of such resolve.
"Any tragedy on this scale gives you a greater sense of appreciation for those you love. I know that the first thing I wanted to do on hearing the news of the attacks on New York and Washington was to pick up my daughter from her daycare and keep her close by and ask my wife to hurry home from work. In the everyday hustle and bustle of our lives, we tend to lose sight of what's really important. Tuesday's events helped correct all our perspectives.
"Citizens and county employees will likely see a renewed emphasis on emergency planning and disaster preparedness. This event was a warning to all of us regarding vulnerabilities in our systems. As I write this, the county is screening all visitors to the courthouse through a metal detector outside my door. Discussions are underway regarding re-installation of the emergency siren at the fire station.
"The county's emergency preparedness plan will get an facelift earlier than planned and will include a new section on dealing with mass fatality.
"These are sad commentaries on the loss of our innocence. No doubt some of the changes we will undertake may cause inconvenience and intrude on people's freedoms. Regrettably that's the sad price we have no choice except to pay.
"Clearly, our President enjoys the support of the vast majority of American people as he debates the correct response to this tragedy. I can only hope and urge that we all remember the pain of this past week and continue to support our government and our elected leaders in the days, weeks, months and years ahead as they begin the arduous task of rooting out terror, wherever it resides."
Diane Williams Bohle, 49 Executive Director, Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce.
"I think every generation has defining moments that they never forget. For some Americans it was World War II, for others the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam war, the assassination of John Lennon, or the Gulf War. Now we have another terrible, defining event.
"Our youth, will always remember where they were, and how they felt when they heard about the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. Our normal, daily, ordinary lives produce the feelings of community and security that binds us together. A defining moment tears those feelings from us. We find we can no longer trust nor do we feel safe. And yet we find we will go on as a nation, as a community and as individuals. But defining moments are important because they change who we are and the paths we take.
"My parents returned to Los Angeles from Washington D.C. one week before the attack, but on the same flight number and schedule. It is disturbing to reflect on how random terrorism is and the potential impact on each of our lives.
"I hope that in addition to standing firm against terrorism, our national leaders would also take the time to reflect on our foreign policies. For example, I think it important to ask how dependent the USA should be on other nations for labor and commodities such as food, goods, gas and oil. I think that our global economy will probably make these points moot in the long run.
"Due to these events, there have already been discussions about the unpredictability of Federal dollars earmarked for rural areas and economic development that would be funneled to meet the needs of the victims and the armed services."
Patricia "Pat" Lee, 72, wife, mother, retired teacher of elementary, middle school, and adult levels. Active in church and community affairs.
"I have the utmost compassion for those who have lost loved ones and those who witnessed the events of September 11. I am pleased that we have not retaliated with force and are measuring our actions carefully so as not to cause more loss of innocent life. The perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions and/or future plans for action when and if we have real cause to believe their guilt.
"This is a wake-up call. The world is different now. Past responses to violence are no longer appropriate. Talk of war only raises terror in the minds of persons who have already endured unspeakable wartime trauma. We have evolved beyond war as we have known it.
"Our country contains enormous reservoirs of creativity, intelligence, ingenuity, and wealth. Those resources together with the intent to cause no harm to innocents should be used to resolve conflict in this new world. This is an opportunity for us to be role models and set an example to the world for peaceful resolution of conflict.
"The recent events have motivated me to ask the question, Why do some people in the world hate us? It's a question that brings many thoughts to mind about world conditions (hunger, extreme poverty, sweat shops, etc.) and the role that an individual can play in moderating them.
"Foremost is holding the thought that each person on this earth is a creature of God, created in His image and worthy of dignity, safety, the necessities of life, meaningful work, and respect.
An individual member of society can communicate with the leaders of government and industry urging fair treatment of all human beings both here and abroad.
"Locally there may be some inconveniences and perhaps higher gas prices. But I suspect we'll see people showing more appreciation for family and friends, recognizing that we are, indeed, fortunate to have them. The contrast with the bereaved in New York, Washington and elsewhere is a stark reminder that it could be otherwise.
"I would like to add that my husband Bud and I have just returned to Prineville from two years of travel around the U.S. with the idea that if we found a place we liked better than Prineville, perhaps we'd move there. We didn't! We give thanks daily for our beautiful, peaceful, friendly town."
Lifelong Prineville resident, Philip Gerke, 19, CCHS graduate of 2000, currently embarking on a career in sound engineering.
"It surprises us when something like this happens. People are being forced to think about things and not take life in America for granted." said Gerke. "Hopefully this will help to bring us together as a nation. It's too bad that it takes something like this to make it happen, though."
"The terrorists apparently justify these acts by saying that American's have been sticking their nose in other people's business for too long, but this attack doesn't serve anything but to kill innocent people. It's cowardly.
"I have faith in our military and government. I think they probably have a pretty good grasp of what's going on and will take appropriate action. The best we can do is wait. If people will pull together and help each other out, and just have faith in the government to do what's right, then things will probably be okay."
Faced with a potential of escalating tensions, people of Gerke's age group are talking about the possibility of the draft. "This is the first time I've ever actually felt like joining the service," he said. "But if I got called to go I would. You can't very well protect the nation from Prineville.
Gerke indicated that he has been impressed by the outpouring of care and concern by the people all across the nation, and is quick to point out that people in Prineville can play a role in the recovery efforts. "Because we're so far away we may not be able to do anything physically to help out, but we can do things like donate blood," he said.
Even though the media coverage is particularly intense, Gerke said that some people seem to be in a state of denial. "I've noticed a lot of people acting as though there's nothing going on. What really amazes me is the number of people not caring," he said. "I don't know if they're just trying to shut it out or what."
Another thing he has observed is the way people are treating their neighbors. "What bugs me is the ignorance in people that shows up when something like this happens. They immediately point fingers at people living in the United States who are of differing cultures. When people get scared they do drastic things sometimes and their reactions are not always right."
Michael O'Leary, 61, raised in Wenatchee, Washington until entering the Army at age 19. Spent 20+ years in US Army, worked for the Federal Government in Bremerton, Washington and Denver, Colorado prior to moving to Prineville.
"I was shocked at the Trade Center disaster. I never really thought any one could/would do anything of that magnitude. Of course I never expected to see the "wall" come down between the two Germany's either.
"As an old military man, my first inclination is to strike back. After pausing for a bit, we need to make sure that who we suspect, is the actual culprit, and then strike, hard and long.
"If there is anything I have learned in this world, the best way to hurt someone like that is to hit them in the pocketbook. Freeze assets, confiscate property, block trade, stop all travel into and out of the country targeted.
"I know, I can already hear the cries of "you're hurting innocent people". Well, I know of at least 5,000 other "innocent" people who were directly affected by the terror in New York, and that does not include close and extended families, friends and associates. Not to mention what has happened to the stock market because of this incident.
"I see repercussions stemming from this event, but not locally. Fortunately, Prineville is small enough, I think, to not be affected, other than the sadness we all feel about the tragedy. I see a bonding together, as evidenced by the American flags flying all over the city.
"Prineville has always been a patriotic city, this happening has only cemented the resolve of those of us who feel the pain. I see a bonding all over the country by the majority of Americans.
"Unfortunately, there are some out there that still don't get it. Those are the ones that scare me."