Tragedy hits home, brings changes locally

Thursday, September 13, 2001

The Area Wide United Way's announcement of its 2001 fund-raising campaign goal was going to be celebratory.

It was planned for Tuesday at the SEMO District Fair, with a background of rides and cotton candy stands and a festive atmosphere. After all, the theme is "Make Someone Happy."

But after the day's terrorism tragedies, the event was called off.

Instead, United Way representatives will gather with those from the local American Red Cross and Salvation Army at 11 a.m. Friday in North County Park in Cape Girardeau, unveiling the goal and telling people how they can help those affected in Washington and New York. There will be inspirational music and prayers.

"We have been trying to think about an appropriate way to unveil our goal, and this will be more appropriate. We are seeing people want some role in this," said Nancy Jernigan, Area Wide United Way executive director.

The national agency has set up the September 11th Fund, and the money will go to the American Red Cross and other relief agencies helping in New York and Washington. Checks may be sent to: United Way, September 11th Fund, 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016. Donors can specify the community they want to help.

To donate directly to the American Red Cross, call 335-9471. For the Salvation Army, call 335-7000.

When big news good or bad happens, Southeast Missourian circulation director Mark Kneer knows readers will want extra copies of the newspaper.

So, on Tuesday night, he increased the printing of Wednesday's rack copies by 50 percent. They bore the front-page headline 'Evil acts' and were filled with news about Tuesday's terrorism.

But some who wanted more than one copy weren't willing to pay. Three eyewitnesses called to say they saw others stealing from the racks. As a result, not everyone who wanted a copy could find one.

"If people had just taken the copies they paid for, we would have had enough to please all of our customers today," Kneer said.

One of the thieves was captured on camera. Witnesses weren't willing to sign formal statements about the other two.

Some of the outlying stores that sell the Southeast Missourian may have unsold copies that will trickle in today and over the next few days. Kneer advises those who want copies to call the circulation department at 334-7115 and speak with a customer service representative or leave a voice-mail message.

The Rev. Bill Matzat, director of pastoral care at Southeast Missouri Hospital, watched the events unfold Tuesday in New York and Washington, D.C., in the same horror and disbelief the rest of the nation felt.

As a native New Yorker, Matzat had a close connection to the tragedy. He lived about 20 miles from New York City before coming to Cape Girardeau 26 years ago.

His niece, a corporate attorney, works in the Empire State building and was on her way to work down Fifth Avenue when the buildings were struck. She and her husband returned to their apartment but were without power. The couple were evacuated to another area of the city.

"People need to do something. Spiritually, that's calling on God by praying for help and peace," Matzat said.

Matzat will be part of a roundtable discussion with other ministers about the incident. It's scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Friday at the Southeast Missouri Hospital chapel.

DEXTER, Mo. -- As news of the horror and tragedy of Tuesday's attacks in New York and Washington spread through Stoddard County, thoughts turned to local residents living in or visiting the two metropolitan areas. So far, all seem to be accounted for.

Lois and Clyde Vaughn, Sr., are breathing a sigh of relief after learning their son, Gen. Clyde Vaughn Jr., avoided injury at the Pentagon during Tuesday morning's attack.

Lois Vaughn was with her husband during a medical appointment when she first heard news of the attack on the Pentagon and called her daughter in Virginia to get information concerning her son.

"Clyde is just fine," Lois said. "He was standing outside the Pentagon and saw the plane crash into the building. Nothing happened to him, and he's safe in a bunker in Washington."

Her son works in the Pentagon as the deputy director of operations, readiness and mobilization.

PARMA, Mo. -- Randall Ramsey was "very stressed" as he watched the television broadcast of Tuesday morning's disaster at the World Trade Center buildings in New York. His son, Richard Ramsey, works in the south tower.

At about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, his telephone rang. Rich was on the line and he was OK. "He got through to me on his cell phone," said Ramsey.

His son said, when they heard the first crash into the north tower, he and the others in his office of Lee-Hecht-Harrison didn't know what it was but they knew to evacuate. As they were leaving the building, the south tower was struck by the second airplane.

He was evacuated to the subway and was able to ride it home.

Randall Ramsey's daughter-in-law, who also works in downtown New York, was able to make it home safely after the disaster. "She had to walk home from her job. They took all the taxis off the street. They said it was really eerie right now," said Ramsey.

By mid-afternoon, Ramsey was fielding calls from friends inquiring about his son's safety. He was glad there was good news to give.

In Washington Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R- Cape Girardeau, spoke about the recent tragedy on the East Coast.

Members of Congress were briefed by the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency and other officials from the Department of Defense.

Emerson received special government clearance to hire a private plane from Cape Girardeau to Washington after her flight Tuesday was sidelined to Indianapolis.

In a conference call, she said the Wednesday briefings left her with the impression that the government is dealing with a "rather comprehensive network" of terrorism.

"The way they described it reminded me of when we studied biology in school," Emerson said. "It's like one of those amoebas that regenerates when you cut part of it off."

Still, she was reassured by the United State's intelligence capabilites.

She introduced legislation encouraging people in the United States to demonstrate their unity by flying the American flag at homes, businesses, schools and places of worship for the next 30 days.

Managing editor Heidi Hall, staff writers Laura Johnston and Andrea L. Buchanan, the Standard-Democrat and the Daily Statesman contributed to this report.

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