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Citizen Journalists share their "biggest" story of 2004.

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RX Depot
Well, the story of the year, for me, at least the one that I will remember from 2004, has got to be the RX Depot story. RX Depot? RX Depot was a business that had its kiosk out in front of my office at 49th and Memorial in Tulsa OK. Rx Depot took drug prescriptions for seniors without drug coverage and faxed them to Canadian pharmacies. The Canadian pharmacies filled the prescriptions and mailed them back to the senior.

Every day I would have to point out to an oldster where the Rx Depot was located. Over the course of 6 months I heard some pretty sad stories about how big a difference the prescription prices in Canada were compared to the USA and how it affected the financial well being of these seniors.

Then one day my office door opened and a camera crew and talking head from CNN came ambling into the office. Well, if you have never had a camera crew from a nationally recognized news organization walk into your office, let me tell you that is a unique experience. My first thought was what in the world could we have done that would warrant a visit from CNN. Then the talking head, like the oldsters, asked my receptionist where the Rx Depot kiosk was located, thanked her, then left. Turned out the government had filed a federal lawsuit seeking to shut RX Depot down. They were ultimately successful. Rx Depot is gone now, replaced by a T-Mobile cellular store. Oldsters can go in there and get a phone and call Canada but they can no longer order thier prescriptions from Canada.

Not long after that Congress passed the medicare prescription drug card bill. As we move forward that one story will continue to have national ramifications on our federal budget deficit, the solvency of medicare and the health of the aging baby boomer generation. But I seriously doubt that anyone will remember RX Depot or their efforts to reduce the cost of prescriptions for seniors.  Hal Butler, Tulsa, OK. 

Revolution in Missouri
A couple of weeks ago, when I walked into the Applebee's in Independence, Mo., Don was waiting to greet me. I'd met Don previously at a Democratic Party dinner for volunteers. I'm a working grandmother of six and Don is retired; later, he and I were joined by Alta and her husband, also retirees; Danny, a 20-year-old college student; Lisa, a single working mother; Gary, also single; and Andy, a married professional. We are a diverse group, but we were brought together that night by our common interest in political activism, generated by what I think is the big story of 2004: the results of the presidential election.

Each of us who gathered at Applebee's that evening was disappointed at the outcome of the election. Each of us had also been involved, to varying degrees, in pre-election campaigning for the Democrats. After John Kerry lost, and we recovered from our discouragement, we all then began to discuss our mutual belief that something new needed to happen in the Democratic Party. We met that night at Applebee's to start a Meetup, which is a loosely-structured political activist group patterned after the Meetups that made Howard Dean such a successful candidate. While our Meetup is labeled "Democrat", it actually is open to anyone interested in progressive causes. There are no dues, no by-laws, no rules of any kind. Those of us involved in this effort agree that there needs to be far more grassroots participation in the Democratic party, and we mean to do what we can to make that happen. "Business as usual" isn't bringing the results that many people who vote Democrat want to see. Our Meetup group wants to help change that. We want to shake things up; we want to recruit volunteers in every neighborhood, precinct, and ward; we want to see people get out, involved, and active; we want to see communication in the Democratic Party start coming from the bottom up, instead of coming from the top down. And last but not least, our ultimate goal is to do what we can to get progressives elected at every level of government.

All of us--Don, Alta, Jack, Lisa, everybody--think we are doing something revolutionary by working outside the traditional structures of the Democratic party. Being severely disappointed at the results of the election forced us out of our comfort zones and into doing something new. For me personally, I went from being a non-activist, prior to the 2004 campaign, to someone now totally committed to political involvement. That's a radical change for me, and because of that change, and the changes I see in others around me, I have to say that the election that caused it is the big story of 2004. Nothing else that's happened, either nationally or locally, has stirred so much feeling or made so much difference in the lives of the people I know. Janelle Rubelee, Raytown, MO.

Tornado Brings Devastation - Builds The Heart of A Community
On July 14, a Wednesday afternoon, the skies over the region began to darken far more than usual. An extremely heavy rainstorm began and as strange as it seemed, the rain began to swoop upward before it eventually hit the ground.

The storm lasted a short time, say within an hour but before the storm ended, several homes were severely damaged and some were simply gone. This was the work of more than just a heavy rainstorm, this was a tornado.

Over 150 homes, farms and businesses were damaged. Some buildings were completely blown away, others were severely damaged. Farm silos were split in half and knocked to the ground. Interestingly enough, although there were several injuries and one woman was critically injured, noone was killed.

The region had not experienced a tornado the likes of this for over 36 years and most of the area was farmland at that time.

Government agencies, volunteer organizations and the general citizenry of surrounding communities offered amazing support to the residents of Campbelltown to help rebuild. Donations were made to the Red Cross for assistance to displaced residents. Churches were offering their assistance with cleanup and food. Businesses like Home Depot setup shop right in the heart of the damaged area offering free crates, barrels, tools, etc.

Much of Campbelltown's history and notoriety have been overshadowed by neighboring Hershey, PA. But this year, Campbelltown, PA made the story of the year in our region not just for the devastation that it endured, but also for the amazing community collaboration shown in it's recovery, not just by Cambelltown residents but those in the entire region.  Chris-Michael Carangelo, Campbelltown, PA.

Any "Story of the Year" would be incomplete without honoring the brave men and women of our military combating terror and oppression in the Middle East. These soldiers of our all-volunteer military are defending our way of life and helping restore hope to people that had none. So, to them, God speed, stay safe and may your work there be over soon. Thank you.

As a resident of Florida, no story or stories had greater impact on our state this year than the onslaught of hurricanes. Virtually every corner of the state was affected by Charley, Francis, Jeanne and Ivan. Names that we all here in Florida want to forget.

Boarded up homes, lines to buy gas for generators, mountains of debris and the never ceasing sound of chainsaws all became part if our daily routine for months. Lives were lost. Homes and businesses destroyed. Ancient trees succumbed to the relentless winds. Whole landscapes have been changed.

But in my small piece of the world in Central Florida, I saw neighbors become friends. One neighbor who spent sixteen hours a day repairing power lines returned home at night to help another neighbor with downed trees. Another, hearing of the devastation in Winter Park, simply loaded up his truck with chainsaws and drove into neighborhoods there to help clear lanes for the emergency crews. And they both smiled while doing it.

So, maybe the story of the year is not so much an event, but rather, people. Our country was built by people who worked hard, took what was thrown at them and made the best of it. They persevered.

That should be the lesson from this past year. For all our differences, we are Americans and it is in us to persevere. Bobby Hedrick, Eustis, Fla.

The story of the year is the GOP win by President Bush in November. It shows wide support for the work of our President and great hope for peace in the mid-east of the world. It also shows what a good man can do to help others gain the freedom to vote for a leader as he helped the Afgans establish free elections and chose their leader. Yea! Good for you President Bush!   

Story of the year was the 2004 Presidential elections results and its ramifications. It was revealing to see the superior election strategy of the republican party pay off. By aligning itself clearly on moral and religious issues republicans were able to paint the Democrats as the party of decadence, thus securing the vote of large blocks of zealots who are most likely to vote. Of course below all this is the agenda of disolving social security and other govt. run social programs. Those religious bodies who supported the republican ticket can now expect to see those programs gutted and they hope replaced social programs run by religious non-profits with federal dollars. Of course, the financial backers of the republican party are already gathering to feast at the trophy-carcass of Social Security.  —Dave Doris, Spring Hill, Fla.

Without a doubt, the most important event of 2004 was the birth of my first grandchild.........Her birth surpassed anything ever written in the news, including the presidential election.  —Richard Scott, Issaquah, Wash.

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