Archive for Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Shouts and Murmurs: Taking note of our surroundings

July 23, 2003

This year the Master Gardeners' flower beds are really taking shape. The flowers are in the area between Chieftain Park and VFW Park, just north of First Street. Visitors will note a new section of brick sidewalk leading into the area. The Master Gardeners recently installed the bricks, which came from old brick walks that were removed during renovation of Fourth Street.

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Throughout his life, Tonganoxie veteran-resident John Lenahan has been interested in local history. Lenahan, who has published two books showing early day pictures of Tonganoxie, now is sharing his knowledge through another medium -- oral history. The owner of Lenahan's Hardware, he spends his spare time talking into a tape recorder, reporting on his early remembrances of his hometown, as well as stories told to him. As I understand it, he plans to give the tapes to the Tonganoxie Historical Society. As Lenahan said, if he doesn't tell his stories, it's likely they'll never be told. Thank you John, for doing that. Present, and future, generations will appreciate your work.

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Perhaps readers have noticed the absence of the yellow ribbon that since April had hung on the outside wall of The Mirror. This ribbon was made to use in a community picture so that our troops in Iraq who keep up with hometown news on The Mirror's Web site could see the support of people back home.

We had planned to leave the ribbon up until the troops came home. But a few weeks ago, the ribbon disappeared. It later was found a few miles west of town, beneath a mulberry tree, too soiled to use again.

The monetary value of the ribbon was negligible. It was made for the most part with donated materials and labor. But to the service men and women from here who knew about the photo of their townspeople gathered around the giant yellow ribbon, it's value was great.

One service man, Scott Ward, wrote from Iraq about what the picture in the April 2 edition of The Mirror, meant to him:

"I carry that picture with me to remind me of how much you all care about those of us in the service. Several of the people in the picture I recognize from around town. Some of you I don't. ... Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. I will see you all when I get back home."

We can only pray that Ward, and the others who are serving in Iraq, as well as those who are serving in other parts of the world, do come home.

They're far away, risking their lives each day just by being there. Local residents continue to show their support in one of the few ways they can -- by flying the flag and by tying yellow ribbons on trees and posts. But during a recent evening's spree, two teens took the largest ribbon of all -- the one on the front of The Mirror.

It's likely more donated materials and labor will create a new yellow ribbon -- a sturdier ribbon, which will be less easy to pull from the side of a building.

Had the two teens who took the ribbon considered its meaning to service men and women and their loved ones, it's doubtful -- that even on a summer night's wild joyride -- they would have taken it.

Stupid acts can serve as wakeup calls. It's my hope that this event reminds once again those who took the ribbon, as well as the rest of us, of the sacrifices made by service men and women, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Displaying yellow ribbons -- in essence saying thank you and we look forward to your safe return -- may seem to be a small thing to do.

But for most Americans, when it comes to displaying a sign of our concern, it's all we can do.

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