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You are here: Home Opinion Paula I. Bryant Seeking memories to share

Seeking memories to share

As we approach the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, you will be hearing and seeing many retrospective stories and reflections about that fateful day in Dallas a half-century ago.


Everyone in my generation — or should I say those just a bit older than me — can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that President Kennedy had been fatally shot while parading through Dallas, Texas.

There was no Facebook, Internet or fax machines back then, and every person didn’t have a cell phone equipped with a camera, but the word of Kennedy’s assassination still managed to spread like wildfire.

Although I was only a little over 2-years-old, I too have my memory of the event. I was too little to understand the gravity of the situation, but I was old enough to know something bad had happened, and I remember peeping out from behind a chair watching the president’s funeral on our old black and white television set.

Granted, it’s a vague memory, but even at my young age, I knew something of monumental importance had occurred…I was just too young to understand how it was affecting the nation.

However, people only a few years older than me remember in great detail the impact Kennedy’s death had on this country, and they can recall exactly who told them and what they did next.

They remember the shock at hearing and seeing television reports immediately following the shooting and the desperate hopes and prayers for the president’s survival.

Not until 9-11 has any event come close to shaking our nation and branding our lives as did the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The nation’s Camelot was destroyed that fateful day 50 years ago.

Many recollections are personal, but they are all worth sharing, and we plan to do just that for anyone who would like to tell us exactly where they were and how they and those around them reacted to the news. 

You are welcome to share with our readers your memory of the assassination 50 years later by jotting it down and emailing it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mailing it to Paula Bryant, c/o The Gazette-Virginian, P.O. Box 524, South Boston, VA 24592.

Be sure to include a name, address and phone number so we can contact you if necessary, but we will only print your name and town you live in now. If you have a photo of yourself back in 1963, you’re welcome to include that too. We’ll pick the best stories about the day this nation can’t forget and run them on our editorial pages next Wednesday.


Chili cook-off winners

Those folks in Elmo really know how to have a good time. Saturday we had the privilege of joining Del. James Edmunds, Chef Steve Schopen and Sheriff Fred Clark as judges in the big chili cookoff held at Elmo Grocery.

It was a beautiful, brisk and chilly morning (pun intended) in Elmo as dozens of locals turned out for the contest dressed in their warm camouflage hunting attire. We saw quite a few “city slickers” who also made their way out to the country Saturday morning to see what all the fuss was about.

After tasting 16 crockpots filled with a variety of chili recipes of differing textures, colors, aromas and tastes, the judges and crowd made their decisions on the best of the best.

Congratulations to Joe Foster of Clover who received the judge’s award for having the winning chili recipe, and also our hat’s off to John Morgenthien of Reidsville, North Carolina whose chili was selected the crowd favorite.

And after all the chili eating festivities, the salute to veterans that followed was very moving and appreciated by all in attendance.


Every vote counts

A couple of weeks ago in this column we urged everyone to go to the polls and vote on Election Day because “every vote counts.”

Little did we realize how true that would be in this election…just ask Rita Best and Fay Satterfield, the two school board candidates seeking election to the ED-6 seat who tied on Election Day and remained tied until Fay’s name was drawn from a box giving her the win and a second term on the school board last Friday.

Or ask Earl Womack, Ray Owen and Arthur Reynolds, the three candidates vying for the supervisor’s seat up for grabs in Election District 3. On election night, it appeared Earl had bested Ray by a mere four votes. After a canvass of the votes, Earl’s lead grew by two to six votes over a close runner-up.

Or what about the ongoing nail-biter in the Virginia attorney general race?

Over the weekend, election officials continued to pore over updates to Election Day numbers, but it’s still too close to call in the contest between two state senators named Mark.  Mark Herring, the Democrat, and Mark Obenshain, the Republican, anxiously await the final tally with Obenshain holding the slightest of slightest leads — we’re talking less than 20 votes — out of the 2.2 million ballots cast last Tuesday.

Today is the deadline day for that race when we’ll see if a clearer picture has emerged. As of now, it appears to be “anyone’s race.” 

The electoral board will have until Thanksgiving week to certify the results, and what you want to bet the Mark who finds himself on the losing end will cry “recount.”

Much is at stake for both candidates.

If Obenshain is declared the victor, the GOP’s 19-year streak of holding the attorney general’s office will continue.

Should Herring pull off the win, Democrats will hold all of the statewide offices for the first time since 1969.

So now, more than ever, you see why every vote counts and that includes yours.


Show on the road

Halifax County rolled out the red carpet back in July to welcome the screening of the anti-uranium documentary “Hot Water” at Halifax County High School.

This week the producers and local stars are taking the show on the road once again with screenings of the movie to be shown in Richmond, Norfolk and Fairfax. 

Hollywood producer Liz Rogers and her production partner, Kevin Flint, made the movie to share their journey through the American Southwest showing how it came to be contaminated with toxic substances and heavy metals due to the mining of uranium.

“We The People of Virginia, Inc.” worked with Rogers to bring the film screening of “Hot Water” to Halifax County where a moratorium on uranium mining has been at the center of a statewide battle between activists and the uranium mining industry.

In the uranium-mining documentary, filmmakers Rogers and Flint begin in South Dakota witnessing communities overwhelmed by cancer from what they described as constant exposure to uranium from local mining interests. 

They speak with academic experts who pierce through the industry’s claims of safety. They take samples showing that radioactive material is seeping toward the nation’s breadbasket. 

Rogers and Flint follow the story to Oklahoma to explain the economic model of the industry. Private companies mine the uranium for a massive profit. Local workers and residents are made promises, but when finally forced to admit the environmental and health impact of the mining, the companies take their profits, declare bankruptcy and saddle the American taxpayer with hundreds of billions of dollars in clean-up costs, according to the documentary.

In the film, Rogers and Flint speak with academic experts including biologist Charmaine Whiteface; Dr. Kim Kearfott, nuclear engineer and professor of nuclear engineering at University of Michigan; Dr. Hannan LaGarry, professor of geology at Oglala Lakota College; Dr. Jim Stone, professor of civil engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines; as well as former congressman and leading environmental supporter Dennis Kucinich. 

The movie was shown Tuesday night at Byrd Theatre on West Cary Street in Richmond, and tonight it is scheduled to be shown at 7:15 p.m. at Naro Cinema on Colley Avenue in Norfolk and Thursday at 7 p.m. at Cinema Arts Theatre on Main Street in Fairfax.

Keep the Ban is continuing the fight to protect Virginia’s moratorium on uranium mining by spreading the word of the risks across the state to areas that could be impacted should the ban be lifted.

“If the ban were lifted, left behind for centuries would be huge volumes of radioactive and toxic waste, which has been linked to increases in leukemia, kidney disease and other severe health problems, disposed near farmlands and local waterways,” according to Laura Cascada of Lift the Ban.

A recent study predicts a spill at the first proposed mining site could contaminate drinking water for up to two years for Virginia Beach and other Virginia and North Carolina communities. 

“According to an analysis by the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission, we could also face an $11 billion loss statewide under a worst case scenario of uranium mining—nearly twice the gain in the hoped-for best-case scenario,” she added.

A recent report by the City of Virginia Beach found that in the event of a catastrophic failure of a uranium tailings containment structure, radioactive contaminants could linger in the city’s water supply for up to two years. The city councils of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Chesapeake, which depend on this water, have voted in support of keeping the ban. 


“Despite these risks, Virginia Uranium Inc. continues to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying elected officials in its ongoing fight to overturn the ban,” Cascada said urging citizens across the state to join in keeping the moratorium on uranium mining.