Most people probably had never heard of East Palestine, Ohio until the recent horrible train derailment. This writer was already familiar as the community is where my mother was originally from. Columbiana County where larger communities like Salem and Alliance are located. Having many close relatives there I had many happy vacations in the area. The local small college in Alliance, Mount Union, has been fairly well known and I nearly went there for my undergraduate education. The county itself is populated by dedicated hard working citizens who love both their state and nation. It has a history, too, as before the Civil War it served as a special station for the Underground Railroad used by escaping slaves.
Surprisingly I am very familiar with the railroad involved, Norfolk and Southern formerly Norfolk and Western. The N&W Railroad was responsible for building the city of Roanoke next door to the city where this is being written. In 1882 the small community of Big Lick was selected by the N&W Railroad to become a crossroads for the railroad. This marked the start of the town’s rapid growth, leading to its charter as the City of Roanoke in 1884 and the headquarters for the railroad. Later the name was changed to Norfolk & Southern and the headquarters was moved to Cleveland, Ohio. The main shops remain in Roanoke and it was in Roanoke that I learned the hard way how the company protected itself.
In the 1960s I was involved in an accident that could have ended my life. My car brakes failed at a railroad crossing and I hit a moving train. There were no lights showing that a train was nearby. That night I was hurried in for emergency surgery and right before I was taken the to the place where the surgeons would work on me I was given a shot which put me partially asleep. As I was being wheeled a man in a business suit stopped the cart I was being pushed on and said I had to sign a sheet. I assumed it was for the hospital and sleepily did so. It was only a week later that I learned I had signed my rights away for collecting liability and took full responsibility. Something we are seeing happening in East Palestine Ohio today.
We are seeing what I believe is a coverup by both the railroad and the Biden administration. An EPA Chief announced that the chemical spill and explosion has “little effect” on the environment and that people did not have to evacuate. Almost laughable is the Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg who said the Ohio River, despite reports of countless dead fish, was “safe” because “It’s a big river.” People in East Palestine are reportedly suffering from headaches, skin rashes and are afraid to trust the water for drinking or giving children baths. Animals are dying, including pet dogs and cats that live solely inside the homes.
The people of East Palestine feel trapped as they cannot just sell their homes or small businesses as they would be bankrupt. They have held protest meetings, however the CEO of Norfolk and Southern and other leaders have refused to attend. Illegal immigrants are being treated better than the citizens of East Palestine; those honest hard working people deserve more.
This writer would like to see church involvement and the creation of groups to raise money to help these good citizens. This writer stands ready to take part in any way possible.