September 27, 2001

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if we just lived in America? Sure we live in America but our home is better described by the name United States of America. I prefer this language because of the very accurate descriptive nature of the first word, United. There can be no doubt that we are United, as the recent tragedy on the East Coast has demonstrated.

How else could you explain several hundred people gathering together in a small Midwest town at a soup supper to raise funds for a distant fire department? I'm quite sure under different circumstances, several hundred people are not going to give up their Saturday night to go eat soup cooked by a bunch of firemen. There are plenty of excellent restaurants in our community, so I doubt it was our cooking that brought out this wonderful crowd.

If it wasn't the menu, then maybe it was some other connection. No one in Scotland County was related to any of the New York City firemen that died in the World Trade Center attack. We had never met any of the nearly 300 heroes that lost their lives in this tragedy. The only bond that existed was more of an unrelated brotherhood. While we did not know the individuals, the firemen of this community know the job. While thousands of people were fleeing the WTC, hundreds of firemen and other emergency service personnel were running into the building to try to save others. While there are no 100-story buildings in Scotland County, a burning two-story home ultimately generates many of the same challenges.

So there is an obvious bond between the firemen of all communities, yet that does not explain the community support that has been demonstrated in Scotland County for all of the victims and the survivors. More than $7,000 was donated at the soup supper for the NYC firemen and their families. That is on top of the several thousands of dollars already donated to the Red Cross by students at SCR-I, and through fundraisers by KMEM Radio, Gerth's Funeral Service and Firstar Bank not to mention the numerous other local efforts. Ronda Armstrong has raised several hundred dollars through the sale of T-shirts commemorating the events of September 11.

I honestly don't know how to explain all of the support, except to sum it up by stating we live in a wonderful community. There is no other solution. The people of Scotland County believe in the United States of America and they have demonstrated their patriotism as well as an embedded compassion for fellow citizens of this wonderful country by dipping deep into their pockets despite a slow local economy. Last week I said I am proud to be an American. Well this week I'll close by saying I am equally as proud to be a resident of Scotland County.

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