Archive for September 2009
The abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy was the first American editor to die in defense of freedom of the press. Very few have been called to follow him since the transplanted Yankee’s blood ran out on the cobblestones of Alton, Illinois.
Today freedom of the press calls on editors to live for integrity of expression rather than to die for it. An editor who exemplifies the daily living free press is William Theodore Evjue, editor and publisher of the Madison, Wis., Capital Times.
White-haired Bill Evjue reached the age of 80 on Oct. 10 . Thus he has lived more than twice the lifespan of Elijah Lovejoy. But there is much in common in their careers and in their intense devotion of their own concepts of honor and truth and the welfare of their fellow men.
Evjue told the story of his mother and father, Nils and Mary Erickson Evjue, immigrants from Norway, in his page 1 column “Hello Wisconsin,” on his eightieth birthday. He told how they made their new home in the lumber country, surrounding Merrill, Wis. There Bill Evjue was born.
He did the hard work of a small town Midwestern boy, and then worked his way at the University of Wisconsin where he became a devoted admirer of the first Senator Robert Marion La Follette – “Old Fighting Bob” who led the liberal and progressive forces in the first quarter of this century.
Residents are concerned about mortality levels near the site of a 20-year-old radioactive waste clean-up.
Diane Ratliff, a native of Venice, Ill., remembers when the dump trucks first started lumbering up and down Meredosia Avenue in the early 1990s. She then surmised the drivers must have made a wrong turn. “Where the hell were they going?” she asked herself.
Nobody informed her or any of the residents of the neighborhood that a radioactive clean-up was taking place down the block.
That was 20 years ago, and Ratliff, a special education teacher for the East St. Louis School District, is still searching for answers as to whether exposure to radioactive waste may have affected the health of her family and neighbors. She is among a group of citizens who are now pressing the federal government for an epidemiological study of the area to determine the impact that the radioactive site may have had on public health. Read the rest of this entry »