By Tim Leeds
People throughout the Havre area are observing the national day of prayer and remembrance announced by President Bush for the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Bush urged the nation to mark the day with noontime services, ringing of church bells and evening candlelight services.
The offices of Blaine County closed from noon to 1 p.m. in observance of the day, and the Blaine and Hill County commissioners have adopted resolutions condemning the attacks and supporting the president and relief efforts.
Stone Child College held a special assembly at noon, with elders of the Chippewa Cree Tribe praying and speaking about the tragedy and its potential impact on the lives of people in the community.
Hill County Commissioner Pat Conway said today that the Hill County offices remained open, but the commissioners urged everyone to work together so people could leave during the lunch hour. He noted that many people are wearing red, white and blue to recognize the day.
Conway said a World War II veteran loaned a flag that has flown over the U.S. Capitol to Hill County to fly at half-staff through September. The veteran, who wished to remain anonymous, was at Pearl Harbor shortly after it was attacked in 1941. He wanted the flag flown as a tribute to all veterans and in recognition of Pearl Harbor as well as for the terrorist attacks, Conway said.
The Havre Lions Swim Team is helping the city show its patriotism. Team members and some of their parents are going around to more than 100 businesses every morning to put up flags and again every evening to take them down.
Havre Mayor Phyllis Leonard asked the swim team to put up the flags, said Todd Obrecht, parent and volunteer for the swim team. The mayor's original plan was to have the flags up until Saturday but they may remain flying for the rest of the month, he said. "I have gotten calls today. Other businesses want to do it," Obrecht said.
The swim team uses the flag raising as a fund-raiser, charging businessess a base rate for the 10 or so holidays and other occasions they are normally displayed. The club is providing the extra displays now at no cost.
Students and staff at all schools in the Havre Public Schools were urged to wear red, white and blue in recognition of the day.
Superintendent Kirk Miller said he thinks the schools are providing a sense of normalcy to the students and their families in this time of crisis.
"We have plans to try to keep things as normal as possible and help our community through this," he said.
State School Superintendent Linda McColluch issued a statement encouraging all schools to allow their students to participate in community events for the the day. She said Montana law requires local school boards to make the decision about when schools close.
Homecoming week in Havre has already included activities honoring the victims of the tragedy. Miller said a moment of silence was observed at the basketball game Thursday night with an announcement of sympathy for the families of victims.
The Rev. Steve Flatau will sing Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" before tonight's homecoming football game, and there will be a moment of silence before the national anthem at Saturday's basketball game, followed by the crowd singing "God Bless America."
Vicke Larson, chair of the Bears Paw District of the American Red Cross, said she has had many calls asking what people can do to help the victims of the terrorist attacks.
Larson said the next blood drawing in Havre would be Oct. 3. Since the city has no blood blank, the staff for a mobile drawing has to travel to Havre.
People can make monetary contributions to help the victims, Larson said. She added that Carol Gabrielson is making red, white and blue pins and selling them, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross for relief funds for the attacks. Gabrielson will coordinate her efforts with the Festival Days events of the Red Cross, culminating with the Kiss the Pig contest in front of the Atrium on Saturday.
The Bears Paw District doesn't have anyone certified as a Red Cross national disaster volunteer, Larson said. That certification takes a high level of training, she said. Anyone interested in more information about becoming certified, or about making monetary donations, can contact the Bears Paw office at 265-1500, P.O. Box 1498, Havre, MT 59501.
Churches in the area have already held special services and prayer vigils. The Fifth Avenue Christian Church has scheduled a one and a half hour service Saturday at 4 p.m. Authors and nationally recognized speakers John Maxwell, Bruce Wilkenson, Max Lucado, James and Shirley Dobson and Franklin Graham will join the church and others around the country via satellite for a time of prayer and support.
More special services are scheduled through the weekend.
Staff writer Glenda Eagleman Wells contributed to this story.