Bleeding the Black Ink

What the war means here at home

The newspaper acts as a forum for a free exchange of ideas -- a portable town square if you will -- allowing the voices, ideas and agendas of the majority as well as the minority to be heard.

It's a modern day town crier, not only delivering the news but also letting people know when the next parent advisory board meeting will be held or the next fund-raiser for a local civic organization is taking place.

As of late, however, the newspaper has taken on a more ominous but critical role in letting area residents know which of their next-door neighbors is overseas participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

When we first came up with the idea, we had no idea how many names and pictures we would be getting. As with most projects, it started off with a trickle -- a couple of names here and a picture there. Then it began to snowball to the point where the Craig Daily Press has dedicated more than a page to those armed services members who graduated from Moffat County High School or have parents or family members who live here.

Because of security reasons, the Department of Defense was not forthcoming with the names of military service members from Moffat County so we had to rely on family members and dependents. The proof of their efforts, which are truly appreciated, can be seen on pages 6 and 7.

When we started the project, we listed the "APO" addresses for service members so those in the community could send letters of support. However, the Pentagon has raised issues of security and has strongly discouraged people from sending "unsolicited mail" to troops, which is why we ended up pulling the addresses that were

once listed.

When we started Hometown Heroes, it was a way of letting people know that the war wasn't just about images that flashed on CNN but included images of home.

Since before the war started, we have covered how this conflict has impacted our schools, our churches, how the saturation of the media coverage has impacted families and the "man on the street" and whether the war has been what that "man on the street" expected.

We have met some amazingly strong individuals who have family members overseas and have some how learned to cope with the anxiety, stress and fear that naturally occur in such situations. These people include 19-year-old Jill Durham, who, with husband, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Levi Durham, are expecting their first child in July. And the family of Talon Jayne, who have plastered its living room wall with pictures of the private first class who is serving with the U.S. Army's 86th Signal Battalion.

They cope in different ways and we as a community have a responsibility to help these families cope however we can.

We'd like to express our deep admiration for the sacrifices of these families and the courage of their loved ones who are under fire as we speak.

The Craig Daily Press will continue to localize the impact of war as it relates to our community because we feel it is our responsibility as a newspaper as well as good neighbors.

We also plan to continue Hometown Heroes as long as our sons, daughters, friends and neighbors are overseas in harm's way.

"Bleeding the Black Ink" is a weekly column that aims at getting readers better acquainted with the Craig Daily Press. Do you have a question or an issue for an upcoming column? Call Terrance Vestal at 824-7031 or email him at tvestal@craigdailypress.com.

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