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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


July 7, 2003

Opportunities Abound To Help Your Neighbors

Alan Imhoff

Two hundred and twenty seven years ago last week, 13 small colonies became one independent nation.

One hundred and forty years ago last week, not very far from here, almost 200,000 American gathered to fight each other in a little town called Gettysburg. Forty years ago last week, I got to "play" soldier in the re-creation of that battle.

Little did I know that just three years later at just about this same time, I would receive a letter in the mail from the President of the United States. The letter began, "Greetings, you are hereby ordered to report for induction into the United States Army." By the end of July 1966, I was at Fort Holabird in Baltimore beginning a four-year tour of duty. Playing soldier all of a sudden became real.

In just a little more than two more months, we will observe the second anniversary of a day most of us wished would have never happened. We are still in that conflict and from all appearances are likely to remain so for some time to come. For some it seems like we are "playing".

As I did some 37 years ago, I have stopped "playing" and have volunteered to serve once again. This time on the home front fighting an enemy that prayerfully will never come here. Since September 11th, a number of us have been meeting, planning and preparing to handle the effects of potential Weapons of Mass Destruction, WMD for short.

Fire and rescue personnel, the Sheriff's Office, municipal police departments, Frederick Memorial Hospital, the American Red Cross, the Frederick County Health Department, Frederick County Public Schools, as well as a number of private citizens, are sorting out logistics and a host of details to be prepared.

Hopefully, you have seen the printed ads and the helpful hints broadcast on cable television to have you and your family prepared for sheltering in place - or what to do - in an emergency. If you haven't, check out cable Channels 99, 19, and 18 where this information is broadcast, or call the public information departments of your local government.

In the coming months we are going to be calling on some of you to volunteer. We will be looking for retired doctors, nurses, and health technicians to be trained and staff the Medical Reserve Corps to assist the health department and the hospital in time of need. We will be seeking individuals to serve on Community Emergency Response Teams to be available in their neighborhoods to help in an emergency until the first responders can get there.

Since volunteering my own time to this endeavor, I have made an observation of what it is that we are doing. In reality it is asking people to bring back a sense of community, where neighbor helps out neighbor, where we do things for others not expecting anything in return, that we begin to put back into our lives a sense of connectedness with those around us.

With the hectic schedules we all keep, with the isolation we have wrapped ourselves in by time-consuming commutes and the plain exhaustion at the end of the day, little time has been left to spend experiencing what goes on in our own neighborhood.

With the advent of Neighborhood Advisory Councils in the City of Frederick and the Sheriff's Office neighborhood watch programs, we are laying the groundwork for the sense of community to grow again with those around us.

Volunteering in any number of ways in your neighborhood can only help our community grow stronger. Volunteering to help out on the home front for our citizens to be prepared for any man-made or natural disaster will give each resident a better sense of security than maybe we feel now.

The Red Cross has excellent training classes to get the average citizen ready. The programs I have mentioned above, Medical Reserve Corps and Community Emergency Response Teams will be starting up over the next few months. The opportunity to form neighborhood watch teams already exists.

While I cannot be a first responder on the front lines for this battle, I can lend a hand to support them. You have the same opportunity.

One hundred and forty years ago, besides the Battle of Gettysburg, another organization was created, the Veteran Corps. Made up of soldiers wounded in battle and no longer able to fight on front lines, these veterans helped out in numerous ways on the home front.

We are forming the Frederick County Citizens Corps to support our first responders in fire, rescue, police and medical fields. It is what we banded together to do 227 years ago; it is what we need to do today. Hope you can join with us.



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