Thursday, Aug. 29, 2002
Friars Point shootings a multiple tragedy
To the editor:
What a tragedy this "shooting spree" in Friars Point involving young Patrick Hopper is. Law enforcement officers were wounded in the ordeal and an angry 19-year-old faces multiple criminal charges. Sadly enough, all of them are probably victims.
There was a recent study conducted by Mississippi State University revealing that 66 percent of our children that pass through the juvenile court system in our state suffer from some form of emotional disturbance. Our teens are slipping through the cracks!
Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, introduced legislation last year that would provide mental health screening for all of these children. I wonder how many Mississippians knew of it or would have even cared.
So here we have a young man, crippled by a drunken driver as a young child, harassed by his peers, and cruelly dubbed "Fat Pat." To paraphrase his neighbors, "He just snapped." The results were disastrous.
Is there anything you could have done?
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
To the editor:
In a recent edition of The Meridian Star, guest columnist Craig Ziemba lectures his readers on the evils of "racism" and says that he "can honestly say that he knows very few people his age that care what color someone is."
Well, Mr. Ziemba, as an American of European descent, I certainly hope that my daughter, who is about your age, "cares what color" her future husband is, as I want my grandchildren to look somewhat like myself, and I suspect that most parents, black or white, feel the same way.
Mr. Ziemba also seems to think that only a few "bitter old men" still value our Southern traditions and heritage.
If Mr. Ziemba really wants to know what's "in the hearts" of most Mississippians of European ancestry, he should look at the numbers in the recent referendum on the state flag issue. Mr. Ziemba will find that some 880,000-plus Mississippians around 82 percent to 84 percent of the whites voted to keep our state flag, which incorporates the Confederate battle flag. That same flag depicts our heritage and traditions.
That vote, Mr. Ziemba, should tell you what's "in our hearts.
World War II exhibition a real treat for Meridian
To the editor:
It has been a real treat for us in the Meridian area to have the Smithsonian Exhibit, Design for Victory, World War II Posters on the Home Front, which opened on July 4. Many thanks are due to Lou Pennebaker, Greg Hatcher, Fonda Rush and others of the Memory Tree Foundation for adding artful displays and exhibits of life and citizen involvement here in Meridian.
During World War II, Key Field became an Army Air Corps base. Businesses and service organizations shared, churches welcomed all military personnel. Many became active in attendance, even in choirs. Some families took them home for dinner.
The Army/Navy YMCA/USO opened in late 1942 or early 1943 with H.R. Denham, director, in the beautiful turn-of-the-century home at 2517 Seventh St. Mrs. Charlie Marshall, Mrs. S.C. Mosley and Mrs. Frankie Peery served as hostesses. GSO member were dancing partners on Tuesday nights to the music of the Air Chords from the base, movies on Saturday nights with an occasional special event like the renowned barbecues of John Dear of Mississippi Power Company.
Events evolved as needs appeared. Many wives came to be near their men. A card file of available rooms and furnished apartments helped them find temporary homes. Activities were developed for them such as the craft of making shell jewelry. Finally a lunch service was provided. Some fellows from the base longed to stay in town on time off. Eventually a dormitory in the attic was added to the first few beds made available. Pool tables, card games, small library, letter writing space and music indoors, shuffleboard and dancing outdoors were available for entertainment.
Trains were major transportation in the '40s and Meridian was still a locomotive center. Ever so often we'd be visited for several hours by a column of troops looking for a nice place to be while their train was being serviced.
All in all it was an interesting and rewarding position being secretary to the director at the USO. Many friends were made, varied tasks from business letters to GSO monthly newsletter, sending out the laundry to chatting with a soldier on his day off to helping a wife get located. A lot of nice folk from many other places blessed us while they were here preparing for service in the war.
I'm honored to have been designated a Home Front Hero by the Memory Tree Foundation. It's been a delightful time pulling out, sharing and being reminded of people and events of a special time in my life and the life of our city and country.
Thanks to The Meridian Star staff for coverage of the exhibit and all the various activities for Produce for Victory. Roger Swain's appearance was fun!
All who've not been to see this very special Smithsonian Exhibit only have until Aug. 31. Hurry!
Betsy Barrell Weems