The Commerce News
September 19, 2001
Can Rebuild Something Better From The Ashes
We've had a week to absorb the shock, feel the anger and think
about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and still the scope
of devastation is beyond reckoning. Reports trickle in of our
own people who were directly affected because they or their loved
ones were at or near the scene. The toll in human tragedy, as
in any disaster, is incalculable, not just in the lives lost,
but also in the lives changed.
Yet, tragedies have their positive aspects; Pearl Harbor served
to free the world from a horrible tyranny and gave rise to the
"Greatest Generation." Disasters make us focus on the
events at hand to the extent that we set aside the things that
drive us apart and we come together to deal with the crisis.
Last Tuesday night, a congress that 24 hours before couldn't
agree on whether or not the nation was involved in deficit spending
stood together singing "God Bless America" and on Wednesday
unanimously passed a resolution of unity. Southerners who on
Monday would have dismissed all New Yorkers as damn Yankees on
Tuesday wept for them, prayed for them and gave blood for them.
It is too early to tell, but the unifying nature of this attack
may spread throughout the world, bringing responsible nations
to the table to seriously deal with terrorist groups. Perhaps
only Israel among all nations has fully understood the need to
treat harshly those who use terror against civilians to achieve
their goals. Today, maybe other governments are thinking about
their responsibilities in relation to terrorists who commit acts
of terror elsewhere but who use their countries for training,
to hide, to manage their money or to acquire weapons.
On Wednesday, Senator Max Cleland, being interviewed by one of
the networks about the country's reaction to the attack, quoted
Admiral Yamamoto, who planned and carried out the attack on Pearl
Harbor. "I feel I may have awakened a slumbering giant,"
Yamamoto said, and subsequent events proved him right. And was
it President Bush who commented that Sept. 11, while being the
worst day in American history, might also be its best?
Let's face it. America has been complacent about world events
in the past decade. Our attention was on the Dow Jones Industrials,
the spread of technology and the pursuit of enjoyment and material
goods. Sept. 11 shook us out of a spiritual lethargy and it could
make us better human beings if we'll stay focused. It made us
see the suffering of thousands but it also restored our sense
of humanity; it both astounded us at man's capacity for depravity
and restored our faith in mankind with reports of heroism, self-sacrifice
and the outpouring of support.
That Sept. 11, 2001, will live in infamy is a certainty. The
evil, the damage and the suffering are now part of our history.
What remains to be seen is whether we will build something good
to top the ashes of disaster. The potential for good is unlimited.
Hopefully, that is how America as individuals will respond. How
better to react to this great evil than to commit ourselves to
being better people building a better America?
The Jackson Herald
September 19, 2001
Bush should say...
Everyone has an opinion on how President Bush should proceed
in dealing with those responsible for last week's terrorists
attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. For what it's worth,
here's what we'd like to hear the president say in the coming
My fellow Americans. I come to you tonight from the Oval Office,
but half a world away, American forces are laying waste to Kabul,
Afghanistan. Through diplomatic channels, we demanded that the
regime in Afghanistan to turn over the terrorists operating out
of their country and all financial resources of those groups.
The Afghanistan leaders refused. Tonight is the start of our
response to that nation, and indeed any nation, which knowingly
harbors terrorists within its borders.
I would advise everyone, both friend and foe alike, to listen
closely as I outline exactly where America stands this day:
We want all known terrorists linked to those who carried out
the attacks in this nation turned over to the United States from
wherever they may be hiding. We want all the assets of these
groups seized by the governments of those countries and those
funds turned over to the families of the victims of the attacks
We expect our allies to cooperate in this effort, for their fate
is tied directly to our fate. If for some reason our friends
refuse to help us in this, we will use all available covert means
to capture, dead or alive, those terrorists who seek shelter
in any nation anywhere in the world.
To our foes who refuse to hand over these terrorists and their
resources, we say watch CNN tomorrow morning when the images
begin flowing out of Afghanistan of what is left of their capital
city. If you shelter terrorists, support terrorism or profit
from terrorists, your fate will match, or exceed, that of Afghanistan.
To my fellow Americans, I want to ask that you remain calm in
this difficult time. This is not a Holy War we are engaged in
and this nation will not tolerate reprisals against those who
practice Islam, or any other faith. If we are to be the light
of freedom in the world, we have to practice freedom in our own
I want to close tonight with a quote from Captain Simeon Ecuyer
during the French and Indian War siege of Fort Pitt:
"Hammer the American hard enough and you forge the best
weapon in the world."
We have been hammered, but from the anvil of New York and Washington
has risen a nation forged in strength and determined to avenge
the evil which visited our shores September 11, 2001.
Good night, and may God Bless America!
The Jackson Herald
September 19, 2001
mayor's race a key battle
It feels almost obscene to write about local politics this week.
The dust has yet to settle in New York and Washington, D.C.,
from last week's terrorists attacks. The shadow of that event
casts a wide pall across our land and dwarfs our seemingly petty
The strange emotional mix of apprehension about the future with
patriotic unity is something new to my generation. Although I
can vaguely recall the emotions which surrounded the assassination
of JFK, that event now seems small when compared to what we witnessed
And yet, for all the uncertainty of these last few days, our
lives and the lives of our individual communities move on. Tuesday,
Jackson County citizens had an election on a sales tax issue
and last week a number of people came forward to run for local
municipal office. Local governments are in the process of setting
tax rates and reviewing budgets for the coming year and people
are concerned about a variety of zoning issues.
And so we forge ahead.
One of the biggest issues this fall will be
the local city election for mayor of Jefferson between long-time
incumbent Byrd Bruce and challenger Jim Joiner. It will be a
watershed struggle for the town and may mark where the community
is headed for years to come.
Jefferson has long been a typical small town with its share of
petty politics and other "family feud" issues. But
for a number of years, it did have strong leadership, albeit
not always totally democratic in nature. Still, whatever the
shortcomings, one did have a feeling that town leaders were progressive
and forward-thinking. We might argue among ourselves over the
governance process, but the decisions being made were generally
positive for the community.
Over the last decade, that sense of leadership has largely diminished.
If Jefferson were a ship, it'd be difficult to name a captain
That unfortunate decline in leadership has come at a time when
the town has seen great challenges as a community. Growth is
straining infrastructure and resources in ways that didn't exist
just a few years ago. But for all the strain on the system, there
is seemingly little interest in those issues by city leaders.
It is pretty much business as usual, circa 1980.
None of this is really news to Jefferson leaders. To their credit,
some have recognized the situation and earlier this year, established
a new form of government with a city manager.
And that, in a nutshell, is THE issue of the upcoming mayor's
campaign. Bruce opposes the city manager government and wants
to create a full-time mayor's position. Joiner supports the city
manager government and wants to see it succeed when it becomes
effective Jan. 1, 2002.
As the incumbent, Bruce is in the position of defending his record
as mayor. Indeed, there are many positive things Bruce is responsible
for, such as investing city resources at I-85 where today stand
a number of industries.
But Bruce's critics charge that the mayor can't live in the past
and run simply on what he did 15 years ago. In addition, critics
claim Bruce has lost interest in the mayor's duties, preferring
to deal with city business out of his restaurant and not exercising
a strong hand over a fractious and sometimes unruly city council.
Earlier this week, Bruce added to that criticism when he appointed
councilman C.D. Kidd to "oversee" the city police department.
Each councilmemeber in Jefferson is nominally "over"
a city department. It's a bad system, but that's another story.
The naming of Kidd to oversee the police department was a shot
not just across the bow, but directly into the ship. Joiner had
previously been the councilman over the police department, but
to run for mayor he had to give up his council seat. In naming
Kidd to replace Joiner in that position, Bruce took a sledgehammer
to those he believes support Joiner.
A few weeks ago, Kidd had a verbal altercation with a Jefferson
policeman during a call at a local apartment complex. In the
aftermath of that incident, Kidd verbally threatened the job
of police chief Darren Glenn, according to a report filed by
What Bruce set up, then, is nothing more than a slam at Glenn,
who Bruce apparently considers a Joiner supporter. It's an untenable
position for Kidd and Glenn and is sure to lead to a lot of internal
conflict within city government. And critics ask, if he does
this in the middle of a campaign, what actions would he take
to undermine the city manager government next year?
It remains to be seen what kind of campaign will result in this
key race. But while Bruce has the incumbent's advantage, his
traditional base of support appears to be dwindling. New residents
who don't have strong ties to Bruce or the city are ripe for
a new face in city government. And even some long-time Bruce
supporters are saying that the mayor should have retired at the
end of this term and not put his name on the ballot again.
Whatever the outcome, this race is a turning point for Jefferson
residents. The two candidates are strikingly different in their
views. More than most city elections, this race will be one with
a stark contrast.
How Jefferson residents view themselves, and the future of their
community, will be spelled out clearly with the outcome in November.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
September 19, 2001
The Need For Blood
Is Always Critical
One of the good things that came out of the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks was that record numbers of Americans turned out to give
blood. In fact, there were so many donors and potential donors
that some blood banks were actually full.
America in general and the southeast in particular have had blood
shortages for many months. It would be nice to think that a positive
legacy from a terrible event would be a renewed willingness of
our people to give blood, not just in times of national or regional
emergency, but regularly.
There are virtually always emergency needs for blood to treat
disease and for surgery, whether it is planned surgery or emergency
surgery, as in the case of accidents. In the past couple of years
though, the region's blood supply has often dipped to critically
low levels. Locally, blood drives that used to get 100 donors
do well to bring in half that many, and the Red Cross has struggled
to attract donors.
It is heartening to see people responding in this time of great
need, but we should remember that the need for blood is always
critical. For the cancer patient, the hemophiliac, the accident
victim or the person facing major surgery, blood products or
raw blood are just as important as they were to victims of the
Sept. 11 attack.
The Red Cross has regular blood drives at several local industries.
It also has regular community blood drives at the First Baptist
Church of Commerce and holds blood drives at BJC Medical Center,
Jackson EMC and the Tanger Outlets. Its Blood Center in Athens
is open daily. The next community blood drive is Monday, Oct.
8, at the First Baptist Church of Commerce, so Commerce area
residents who still want to do something to help those in need
will have the opportunity. Hopefully, the public-spiritedness
that exists now will still be present on Oct. 8 and area residents
will turn out in great number to do their part.
We're All Americans
It isn't on the same scale as the attacks last Tuesday on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but some Americans are resorting
to equally cruel acts of terror against civilians.
Reports from all over America indicate that people of Arabic
descent, Muslims, and immigrants of all sorts are being harassed,
threatened, beaten and even killed as if they were connected
to terrorist groups.
We need to understand that Americans come in all colors, from
all ethnic backgrounds and from all religious groups. American
Muslims are just as shocked and angry about last Tuesday's attacks
as the rest of us maybe more so, because they understand
how the attacks violate the Muslim principles and how they reflect
on America's perception of Islam. If we learned anything from
our treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II, we should
apply it now.
The Commerce area has a sizeable Muslim community and there are
numerous good citizens here of Middle Eastern descent including
many who immigrated within the past two decades. Being American
means more than waving the flag in this time of trial; it means
accepting people of different religions and cultural backgrounds.
It means showing tolerance, kindness and understanding to fellow
citizens of all religions and backgrounds, all colors and creeds.
If Americans of Middle Eastern descent or followers of Islam
are afraid to go out in public, then the terrorists who struck
Tuesday have won. If the attacks cause harassment of discrimination,
the terrorists have won.
Now is not a time for hatred of fellow citizens. It rather is
a time to embrace and support them as fellow citizens and fellow