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Wahl to Wall: We need to capture the ‘Dunkirk’ spirit

Published on August 8, 2017 2:37PM


If you go to see the movie “Dunkirk” –– and I hope you will –– please pay particularly close attention to one of the closing scenes in which the role of the local hometown community newspaper is highlighted. I won’t say too much more, not wanting to be a spoiler.

Several reviewers have opined that you will need to see the movie at least twice to unravel director Christopher Nolan’s time-twisting technique. It occasionally gets in the way of the storytelling. And his characters aren’t well-developed.

I am as much a fan of avant-garde as anyone, but there comes a point where you just want to stand up and yell at the screen because you have no idea what’s going on.

I couldn’t help but note that the spirit of “Dunkirk” is something that’s sorely missing in our country today. We could use a little more working together and uniting behind a noble cause rather than spitting, fussing and fuming.

Can you image capturing a “Dunkirk” moment and applying it to a major national crisis like health insurance and crafting a solution everyone could live with? Now that would be worth the price of admission. I’ll bring the popcorn.

SHORTLY AFTER I moved here, I was introduced to Don Swart and his wife, Evelyn. Since Don had been the face of the Chieftain for so many years, I wasn’t sure what to expect. How delighted I have been to find both of them to be a wonderful source of encouragement in my work. They are among a handful who truly understand what it means to bear the responsibility of producing a weekly newspaper.

I especially appreciate Don’s sense of humor. It has long been my theory that in the newspaper business, you either get a sense of humor or check yourself into an institution.

Last week, the Wallowa County Rotary Club presented Don with an award for “Exemplifying the Rotary values of Leadership, Service And Friendship.” I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the accolades.

The story is told of an elderly newspaper publisher who hired a young reporter. The reported noted a rather odd behavior in his publisher. Every time the train went by, the publisher would jump up and stand at the door and watch it until it disappeared over the horizon.

One day, the reporter worked up enough gumption to ask what his actions were all about.

“Well,” said the wizened publisher chewing on a cigar, “it’s the only dang thing that goes through in this town without me having to get behind and push it.”

Thanks Don and Evelyn for your friendship and support.

PLEASE TAKE the opportunity this week to stop out and catch the action at the Wallowa County Fair at the fairgrounds. There is perhaps nothing more iconic than a county fair and all that goes with it.

It’s somewhat sad that country fairs are on the decline nationwide. It seems the “hand” in the 4-H pledge is rapidly becoming more of a thumb, as in texting and surfing online.

It takes a number of dedicated folks to make the Wallowa version happen each year. Let’s do all we can to support them, and let them know that the county fair still has a vital role to play in our community. We hope to be out capturing images this week and plan to bring you results as quickly as they become available.



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