Irene North


The day we bought into the fear

At the World Trade Center memorial in New York City, roses of different colors are placed in a person’s name each year on their birthday.

In the 1980s and 1990s, whenever you went to the airport, your family and friends went with you to the gate. They would embarrass you with hugs and kisses before you began your journey down the gangway and into the plane.

The cockpit door was sometimes open. People could drop in on long flights and get a quick tour. I once watched the sun rise from the cockpit.

Then, on September 11, 2001, everything changed. We gave into the fear of an attack on our country.

On a bright, sunny morning when President George W. Bush told us “you’re either with us or you’re against us,” I knew our fate was sealed. In that moment, I became “against us.”

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Photo Essay: Total Solar Eclipse at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

The road wasn’t as busy as I had thought it would be at 5 a.m. I suppose it’s because several people traveled up to agate Fossil Beds National Monument the night before and many more came later in the day.

About 10 miles before the park, cars, trucks and RVs dotted the sides of the road. They were all out of state vehicles. Most were pulled off the road and parked against fences. The fences are to keep livestock in. It doesn’t mean it’s free land to park your car or pitch your tent. But they did so anyway.

It angered me in a way. It’s great that people travel from places far away to see an eclipse at a great site, but disrespecting others and their land rubs me the wrong way.

Later in the day, I heard one gentleman say, “We’re so far out in the middle of nowhere, the owners, if there even are any, probably wouldn’t have seen us anyway.”

I was wearing my Star-Herald polo shirt and I was working. I chose to let that comment go. I also didn’t want it to ruin my day.

I turned into the park. The rangers smiled as they saw me. My day was already better. This is a photo essay of my day. I wrote two stories for the Star-Herald, took more than 700 photographs, met some new people, and experienced a phenomenal event.

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What’s it like in a newsroom?

If you walk into a newsroom on any given day, you’ll see people banging away on their keyboards. Some are swearing their computer is too slow. Others are jamming the keys so fast, you’re amazed at the words that come across the screen.

The Star-Herald on Saturday is mostly empty. There’s a reporter and two people on the copy desk. Sometimes, the Special Projects Editor is there, too.

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When will you step up and speak out?

I almost can’t believe I’m writing about Nazis.

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Some things you should know

If I were a cow, this would be me. Going where I’m not supposed to go to get something good. A part of the herd, but apart from the heard.

Life is very difficult for me right now. And I don’t use the word “very” often.

After returning from a short vacation to visit my mom and not seeing everyone in my family that I wanted to, I have been working. Literally. It’s all I have done. I returned from vacation on June 27. I have had five days off since then. I can feel it. Something inside is about to break.

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