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The power of the press in actionPosted Sunday, November 16, 2008, at 8:20 PM
The front page of our Wednesday, Nov. 12, edition had several stories about Veterans Day celebrations around Saline County on the Marshall courthouse square, at Missouri Valley College and in Slater.
As each celebration follows the last, we always mention the world wars, Korea, Vietnam and the more recent events in the Persian Gulf -- they are the largest and longest wars. But one of the speakers at the Marshall courthouse square event pointed out that there have been other conflicts in which servicemen and women have died that are often unmentioned.
I'm sorry to say I didn't record that speaker's name in my notes, but I thought it was important, so I included those less-mentioned places in my story this way:
"In 1954, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower designated Nov. 11 as "Veterans Day," in honor of the many who served in wars across the globe, now including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Lebanon, Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan."
Later in the day, I received the following email message:
"Please thank whoever needs to be thanked for remembering Panama in the Veterans' Day events. Too often only the major wars get remembered, and the men and women who fought or died for America in strange places like the Sudan, Lebanon, lots of un-named (secret) activities, and Panama are left out.
"We U.S. citizens who were here when our people (male and female) dropped in on Dec. 28, 1989, will never forget them and what they did for all of us as United States Americans and for the Panamanians as Americans as well."
Nina Kosik - Panama City, Panama
I wrote back to Ms. Kosik, thanked her for writing, and asked her how she'd come across the story. She told me that she has a Google Alert to thank.
When I asked if we could reprint her letter, she said yes.
"My mom didn't have much education, but she had more common sense than any 20 people I could name immediately. She once told me that if I wrote something down & signed my name, I'd better not be surprised if it gets printed, quoted, or otherwise sent to the winds. Of course you can print it," she wrote.
And she told me a little about herself, too.
"My grandparents dug the Panama Canal, their children married each other and I arrived. I married a New Yorker and our children were born here. They are now in the states, but if you've been reading the news, you'll see that Panama is the latest hot place for real estate investments --- but please, don't do it. It's a wonderful place to live, but not for people who don't like humidity or think they should bring America here, won't learn the language and don't understand that they are the foreigners.
"I go to the States a lot and my kids have relocated with their own families. We, too, are a military family - my dad was in the service, my mom and I both worked for the military for over 30 years each and my son, too young, then too old, for the service went to Afghanistan to fix helicopters as a civilian.
"The Canal Zone was a very pro-military community. We were not surprised to see the U.S. military perform with extraordinary accuracy and compassion. I was so used to seeing such action in the movies, so to see it happening in real time was pretty extraordinary. Every one of them should be proud of the part he/she played and the results for a Noriega-free country. Our troops are the best of us."
It's impossible to underestimate the reach of the Internet. Every word we put online goes to places we would never imagine. Ms. Kosik has no connection to Saline County at all, and yet she "heard" that in a small Midwestern town, thousands of miles away, attention had been given to something that was very important to her. And not just to her, but to everyone in our country who has a son, a daughter, a friend who has served or is serving today in our military. How extraordinary!
Now I would like to ask for your help. If you know who it was that mentioned Panama, Lebanon and Grenada last Tuesday, please let me know. I would like to know and thank him personally for a reminder that had such meaning.
Contact me at the newspaper office by phone at 660-886-2233, Ext. 23, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Kathy Fairchild received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1986 from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa. She is also a 2003 graduate of the paralegal program at New York University. She moved to Marshall in 2006, following a career of more than 30 years with the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. She is an Air Force brat and grandmother of four.