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September 19, 2001


Column
By Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
September 19, 2001

It pays to pay attention
I am writing this on Tuesday, Sept. 11. In light of what happened in New York City, in Washington and in our nation, anything I put down on paper today is unimportant - even frivolous, or silly.
We are being encouraged to get on with our lives.
We will get on with our lives all right, but our lives will never be the same. In New York and Washington and across the nation, thousands of innocent citizens have no lives.
That is why my heart is not in this today. I will fill my allotted space, and while the story I was working on when the war started....
When the war started?
Yeah, that's what I said. And that is what I meant. It is war. I don't care what they call it.
In a little while I will get back to the story that motivated the headline: "It pays to pay attention."
Like a lot of my stuff, it really is unimportant. Every week I try to make my story and style simple. And most every week I have fun.
But I am not having fun now. It is hard to have fun when you are at war.
I read somewhere that there will always be war and rumors of war. I guess that's pretty much true.
I grew up listening to stories of World War I. I grow old telling stories of World War II. Veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam and Desert Storm have their stories.
Those wars were over there, overseas, far away, in some foreign country. The one that started today is over here. Not just close to home. At home - in the United States.
Only the military was involved in the fighting - over there. All of us are involved in the fighting - over here. Every man, woman and child in America is going to have war stories to tell.
And maybe that is a good thing. Just maybe - this is the wake-up call that will bring us together. Just maybe - this generation will prove that it is greater than that old World War II crowd Tom Brokaw talked about.
I said several months ago that the greatest generation is yet to come. This may be it. The war that started today may be their opportunity.
* * *
Now I will get around to the unimportant, frivolous, silly stuff I was working on when those faceless cowards flew the airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Hey, kids, listen up. Pay attention in class. What you learn today may stand you in good stead 20, 30, 40 - even 50 years from now.
I know because of a personal experience. What I learned in a history of journalism class at Murray (Ky.) State College in 1947 got me a compliment. Now, a compliment isn't all that great, but it is better than getting chewed out.
I showed a friend the column I wrote for last week (What goes around comes around) and he said it included one of the best lines he'd ever seen.
He was referring to this one: "Handwriting is so seldom used anymore that everybody's signature is beginning to look like a chicken stepped in ink and walked across the page."
It's a good line all right, but it's not mine.
Horace Greeley (1811-1872) is responsible for it, but I wouldn't know about it if I hadn't been paying attention when L.J. Hortin, my journalism professor, mentioned it in class 53 years ago.
Prof. Hortin pointed out that Mr. Greeley, a prominent American newspaper publisher, founded and edited The New York Tribune, was a leader in the antislavery movement and, among other things, popularized the phrase, "Go west, young man."
Oh, I also remember that Horace founded a cooperative farm enterprise in Colorado in 1870, and that the town of Greeley, Colo., is named for him.
As an aside, Prof. Hortin said Mr. Greeley's handwriting was so bad that it looked like a chicken stepped in ink and walked across the page.
I could keep my mouth shut and take credit for that great line, but I want to make a point: It is important, kids, to listen and pay attention in class. The more you listen and pay attention, the more successful you will be and the greater will be your contribution to your family and your world, including the war effort in which you are now engaged.
One more thing: Just as war that started today is a lot different from World War II, the class I attended in 1947 is a lot different from the one you are attending in 2001. My class was four walls. Yours is the world.
Listen well, kids. Pay attention. May your war stories be stories of victory.
Virgil Adams is a former owner/editor of The Jackson Herald.

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Column
By: Jana Adams
The Jackson Herald
September 19, 2001


How quickly things change
I recently visited the Holly Springs home of C.L. "Pat" and Mary Patterson to talk with them about their World War II experiences. They were a couple who met and married in between - as he returned from war and she was preparing to ship overseas. I listened, borrowed some photographs and wrote a very condensed version of their stories that was published on August 8.
I enjoyed meeting them and was fascinated by the photos and adventures, and I was saddened to learn from Mr. Patterson last week that his wife had passed away on September 8.
I thought about the veterans I know and have known and thought about how their stories of war and the courage they showed are amazing, especially to those of us never confronted with anything close to an act of war..
How quickly things change.
Mrs. Patterson - 1st Lt. Patterson - was buried September 11, 2001, a day that will be known in history for the terrible terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., and ultimately, against the United States and the way of life we used to know.
People arriving at work Tuesday all over the country for what they expected to be a normal day were soon huddling around radios and televisions in disbelief and horror. Veterans who had seen the face of war and disaster up close many years ago, and who probably thought they'd never see such a thing again in their lifetime and certainly not in their own country, recounted the bombing at Pearl Harbor and likened it in some ways to Tuesday's shocking attack. In light of the awful scenes we saw last week- U.S. cities referred to as war zones - the longterm wherewithal of our veterans seems even more amazing.
All of us, veterans or not, watched with deep sadness and anger as the events unfolded; with sympathy as we saw the grief of those searching desperately for loved ones; with amazement as we learned of the heroic and selfless acts of firefighters, policemen, medical personnel and volunteers from New York City, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and all over the country. My eyes have filled with tears more than once as I listened to the many stories of acts of kindness and concern of people reaching out, offering what help they can.
Tuesday was a day of disbelief, and we looked around us and asked, how could this happen? And while those feelings of shock remain, especially as we look ahead, the questions about how this could happen have broadened to include, how can we help? What can we do?
There are opportunities to take an active step to help - with donations of blood and money - listed elsewhere in the paper. If you feel the need to "do something," look for the story about Red Cross blood drive locations and how you can send checks to the Red Cross via BJC Medical Center.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald.

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