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Today's word on journalism

May 12, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Ongoing vigil for peace 'favorite hour of the week'

By Kirk Salisbury

May 5, 2009 | Cache Valley residents gather every Friday evening in front of the Logan Tabernacle alongside Main Street, displaying anti-war signs as part of what they call a peace vigil.

"We don't protest against war, instead we stand for peace," said Peggy Neuber, who is a regular peace vigil attendant.

The group has a steady attendance of six to 12 people for the hourlong stand that begins at 5 p.m. in front of the tabernacle. "Regardless of weather conditions, we have always had somebody there," said Brenda Chung, a regular attendant of the vigil.

The peace vigil began in September 2005 when Rachel Carroll, a then-Utah State University student, wanted to go to Salt Lake City on International Peace Day, but was unable to travel that evening for the peace gathering there. Instead she gathered friends in Logan. The first to attended included several high school students, were proud to stand for peace and they began meeting unofficially at the tabernacle every Friday. Others have become a part by word of mouth and invitation from friends involved.

"It has become my favorite hour of the week," said Peggy Neuber. Those who attend feel this is a time that they get to practice their given right of freedom of speech.

"In this country when we don't like something, we don't have to agree. We have the freedom of speech, and to raise our voice in letting others know we don't agree with our leaders and what they are doing," said Neubar.

When the peace vigil began, Chung said the public attitude in general was much more negative. Those holding signs were often yelled at or greeted by the "one-finger peace sign."

"There was one diesel truck driver who would intentionally get really close to where we stand, and speed up. It was close enough that it would spray rubble on us. . . . The police once caught them in the act, and we haven't seen that person back since," Chung said.

As time has gone on, support for the war has diminished, and people passing by have become more friendly, honking in a friendly way, giving thumbs up, and waving. Approval has gone from a minority to a majority.

"Just recently one young man actually came out and shook each of our hands and thanked us individually. He explained he had just returned from Iraq. He had seen us before his military service, and would think of us while he was in Iraq," Chung said.

Many of the attendants are proud to make their stand for peace, and practice their freedom of speech right here in this country. "Even if they (people passing by) don't agree with us, they have become more accepting of us practicing our right in a democratic society," Chung said.

"I'm from the '60s. When we didn't like something we got up and did something about it," Neuber said.

The biggest group to gather was on the anniversary of the Iraq war two years ago, about 40 attended that day. The larger crowd came because of Marshall Thompson, a journalism student from USU. Thompson had just finished his tour of duty in Iraq and walked the whole state of Utah to raise the public attention about Iraq. The peace vigil, with Thompson, helped raise public interest regarding the Iraq war.

All are welcome to attend the peace vigil, they ask for anybody to bring a sign and say what they want to say. There is no official organization or sponsor of the weekly event, but Cache Valley Peace Works promotes and advertises it in the Utah Statesman and other sources.


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