The Star-News - Sept. 13 2002

Another chance to let freedom ring


South County residents found a variety of ways to pay dignified homage to those who lost their lives in the atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001.

Several phoned The Star-News this Wednesday to report patriotic displays that they felt should be photographed for publication. One caller was inspired by the elementary school students of Feaster-Edison Charter School who had created an ingenious rendering of the flag by pushing red, white and blue drinking cups through a chain link fence on E Street.

At the other end of the spectrum were the grand civic events organized by the school districts and by the cities of Chula Vista and National City.

An American flag that had been salvaged from the rubble of Ground Zero and subsequently taken into active service against Al Qaida aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, was brought to Chula Vista by retired US Navy Cmdr. Mike Giorgino to play a part in at least two of the commemoration events in Chula Vista.

In an evening event held at National City's Veterans War Memorial in Kimball Park, Roger "Cat" Morris personified the American Flag itself and speaking from the flag's point of view gave an impassioned oration of its history and the respect that is its due.

After a candle lit ceremony and closing prayers, we were able to shake hands with each member of National City Fire Department and personally thank them for the work they do. Somehow, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

But after a week spent reliving such grim memories, it might be time to look anew to the democratic values our fundamentalist enemies seek to destroy. We're only seven weeks away from election time.

Free and fair elections are the life blood of democracy, and yet, despite our flag waving and our solemn words, it seems voters' apathy remains undented by Al Qaida's attacks.

Another phone call received this week was from a candidate who said he was disappointed that, despite his canvassing from door to door, the voter turnout for South Bay Irrigation Board in the last election was only 12 percent. Informed that 50 percent of the American public had never read a newspaper and 50 percent had never voted, the liberal commentator Gore Vidal once remarked that he hoped it's the same 50 percent.

The true numbers may be debatable but it's clear that Star-News readers care passionately about how our communities are run. You hold strong views about traffic, planning, education, law enforcement, public spending. The list goes on.

The trouble is that if you don't participate at election time, you can't really blame somebody else when you don't like the results. As a service to the undecided voter, The Star-News will be preparing a question-and-answer feature to give you a summary of which candidate stands for what. And we'd like you to get involved.

E-mail your suggested questions to Laura Mallgren at and we'll do what we can to incorporate your concerns into the process.