Monday letters: Storm King as it happened, presentation on religious right, fentanyl and Biden vs. Trump – Glenwood Springs Post Independent

A chronicle of Donald Trump's Crimes or Allegations

Monday letters: Storm King as it happened, presentation on religious right, fentanyl and Biden vs. Trump – Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Opinion Opinion |
Editor’s note: An exception was made for the length of this letter.
I was the old Glenwood Post’s man on the scene at the horrific Storm King Mountain Fire that killed 14 firefighters on July 6, 1994, so I go to every memorial including Saturday’s event at Two Rivers Park.
I never want to forget, as if I could. I could almost recite the names of the 14 from memory. Someone at the memorial noted that there was a large contingent from the Blecha family there and wondered what the first name of their lost loved one was. “Scott” I said without hesitation.
The bagpipes at the memorial gave me the chills as they always do, but thinking about that awful day does as well. Having recently arrived from the Chicago area, I’d seen and heard about some terrible industrial accidents, but nothing like this.
For me, it started when I was in my father’s basement watching the morning news. A young Kathy Saban, fresh out of college, was issuing a warning to the firefighters on Storm King Mountain Fire on Channel 9 News.
There’s going to be a wind change, she reported. A front is moving in from the west bringing high winds. Apparently, the firefighters didn’t have their portable televisions with them, because they weren’t prepared for the wind change.
A lowly stringer at the Post at the time, paid by the line, I called the newsroom and asked what was going on at Storm King Mountain. “Thank goodness you called,” replied editor Dennis Webb, “I don’t have anybody to cover it. Can you get up there?” I dashed out the door and jumped in my car.
I could tell I was on a big story because all the major news sources were there; the Denver Post, ABC, NBC, and CBS. Garfield County Undersheriff Levi Burris was at the Canyon Creek command center disseminating information and setting boundaries.
“Whatever you do, don’t go up that hill,” he cautioned. That day, I learned how the bigtime reporters operate. Find out what the rules are then make sure you break all of them. I followed them up Storm King Mountain.
What I saw hit me like a gut punch. From my vantage point I could see eleven of the 14 fire tents with dead firefighters under each one. I remembered covering a firefighter’s training session where the trainees were instructed to pull the fire tents over them. They knew the tents would do them no good in the face of a raging inferno. “We’re potatoes!” they called out.
Standing there, stunned, it occurred to me these were young people who traveled a thousand miles to save a community where they probably don’t know anyone. These are the best we have. And now they’re gone. We are much the poorer.
The toughest job I ever had was interviewing the families after the tragedy. What do you ask? How do you feel? I decided to ask them to tell me what they would like our readers to know about their loved one – their loves, their ambitions, their plans for the future. Turned into a pretty good piece.
Fred Malo Jr., Carbondale
On July 12, 2024, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Glenwood Springs Branch Library, Colorado Times Recorder reporter Logan Davis will speak on “Colorado communities standing up to Christian nationalism.” Davis, a self-described “progressive researcher and writer based in Denver, specializing in the threat posed by right-wing extremism” has covered the Woodland Park American Birthright Standards controversy since June of 2023.
Davis asks: “Why are groups from New York, Florida, and Washington, D.C. interested in a district of a few thousand students in Teller County, Colorado? And why do so many players in the cast of characters in this small-town drama have direct connections to politically active right-wing billionaires and the groups they fund? And why does the town’s hyper-political religious sect – a sect which specifically preaches the taking-over of government institutions for the glory of God and the kingdom of Christ – seem to be so involved with all of it?” (Citation:
Many of the same players and themes have been behind a recent surge of challenges to library materials across the nation. According to various studies, most Americans of any political party are overwhelmingly opposed to censorship. So who is pushing it and why?
Sponsored by the non-profit Protect Our Garfield County Libraries this presentation is free to the public. Please note that library rooms are available to other community groups and perspectives too.
James LaRue, Rifle
In December 1942, the Imperial Navy of Japan carried out a surprise attack on the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Roughly 2,400 Americans died in that attack. The next day, American President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the Congress, described this event as a “Day To Live In Infamy”, and asked Congress to declare war on Japan.
In September 2001, the Twin Towers in New York City were destroyed by terrorists. Roughly 3,000 American civilians died. America essentially declared war on the perpetrators of this attack.
In the 1960s and 1970s, America fought an undeclared war in Vietnam. It lasted about ten years. Roughly 58,000 Americans died in that war over a ten year period.
In 2023, roughly 120,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl. The toll in 2022 was a little less; the toll in 2024 will be more. Let’s just say that 360,000 Americans will have been killed by fentanyl over three years.
So 2,400 Americans were killed at Pearl Harbor. And 3,000 were killed at the Twin Towers. And 5,800 a year on average were killed in Vietnam. And 120,000 were killed by fentanyl every year in the last few years. Who is killing so many Americans? Why don’t we even know about it?
The ingredients of fentanyl are manufactured in China. They are then shipped to Northern Mexico, to the cartels. The cartels use the ingredients in all kinds of drugs, which they then easily walk over the open border of the United States, where those products kill 120,000 Americans every year, many of them young Americans with a life ahead of them.
This is not a Republican versus Democrat issue. This is not a Trump versus Biden issue. This is not an immigration issue. This is an issue of foreign nations killing Americans in unheard of numbers. And it is an issue that Americans are doing nothing about.
Jim Ingraham, Glenwood Springs
A lot has been said lately about age and its perceived frailties. We have two candidates for the Presidency that are nearly equally “old”. 
One shows his age, walking stiffly, sometimes forgetful, but still strong in his devotion and empathy built through hard experience. His idea of governance was forged in the heart of American democracy working with others to create a better America. 
The second has devolved into a spiteful self-centered old curmudgeon, obsessed with vengeance for imagined slights. His speech is rambling and incoherent. His model for governance is corporate hierarchical tyranny. 
We live in a culture that values youth and devalues age. Dr. Rachel Bedard, a specialist in the medicine of aging, said in a recent NYT opinion piece. “Ours is a culture that greatly undervalues the potential contributions of older people who have so much to offer in terms of care, mentorship and experience and instead consistently portrays them as burdensome.” Frailty and loss of cognitive ability with age are taboo, hidden away, retired and forgotten. Seniors who can still perform like the “youngsters” get media attention. Seniors who no longer fit the paradigm of youth despite mental and physical acuity get more attention when they seem to falter, to no longer fit the cultural ideal.
Trump also displays his age with incoherent and dishonest vitriol, but with vigor and confidence. So he gets a pass from the media, while Biden gets all the attention.
My experiences from the past 72 years taught me that people like Joe Biden deserve respect. It also has taught me to be very wary of people like Donald Trump. I’d much rather have an elderly, sometimes forgetful President who respects American democracy than an angry and spiteful old man who respects nothing.
Ken Neubecker, Glenwood Springs

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