Tuesday marks the premiere of a one-hour documentary special honoring the Montford Point Marines, a World War II unit that included some Marion locals.
Last fall, childhood friends Mallorie Berger and Reginald Moore discovered that their grandfathers had both been Montford Point Marines and would receive Congressional Gold Medals.
Neither Berger nor Moore had previously realized their grandfathers were Marines, let alone part of a group that made history. The Montford Point Marines were the first group of Black Marines. They succeeded in becoming Marines despite the extreme adversity, poor conditions, and outright hostility they faced at Montford Point.
“The Marine Corps had no intention of actually seeing these men succeed and did not believe they would succeed. They gave them every obstacle to make them fail, and they didn’t,” Moore said.
“I think about my grandfather, and he never even mentioned it. I didn’t even know,” Berger said. “I mean, I knew he was in the military because I had seen photographs of him in military attire, but I never knew what branch.”
Berger only realized that her grandfather was one of the 20,000 men trained at Montford Point in October of 2021. She found an article about the Montford Point Marines published by Black Southern Belle, written by Michiel Perry. The article encouraged readers that might have family members who served as a Montford Point Marine to contact the Montford Point Marine Association.
Berger was reminded of the documents and photos she had found years before in her late grandfather’s basement. Berger contacted the association, who eventually confirmed that her grandfather, Maurice L. Burns Sr., had been a Montford Point Marine, and would receive a Congressional Gold Medal.
She contacted Moore to tell him the news. Soon after, Moore discovered that his grandfather, Morris Ruffin, was also a Montford Point Marine.
“Just to know that our grandfathers, these men, that we give great reverence to now were even greater men in their youth than we ever even suspected and this is what makes this moment so amazing because they never talked about it,” Moore said. “They never spoke about these moments happening. These were just the something they went through. They got through it and went on to become very well respected in their community, hardworking family men.”
On Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, Maurice L. Burns Sr. and Morris Ruffin were posthumously honored with the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award, at a ceremony at the Montford Point Marine Museum in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Berger and Moore received the medals on behalf of their grandfathers. Since then, Berger has worked to make sure more Montford Point Marines receive the same recognition. There is not a full record of who was at Montford Point, so many of them have still not received their medals.
Berger has spent a lot of time going through archives at libraries and newspapers trying to find the names of some of the Marines. After a news story about the annual award ceremony, about 65 families reached out to her about it. Despite her efforts, however, still only about 2,000 of the Congressional Gold Medals have been awarded. Berger and Moore hope that the documentary will help spread the word to other families and create awareness to bring more names to light.
“The more we tell them, the more people we find, the more impact it has. So this is kind of our call to action,” Berger said.
When they first discovered that their grandfathers were Montford Point Marines, Berger and Moore reached out to a childhood friend and Marion native, Latondra Newton. Newton is the Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer of The Walt Disney Company.
“The minute she got the message from Reggie, Latondra did not miss a beat because she understood the historical significance of what we were telling her,” Berger said.
Newton immediately reached out to a contact at ABC and set up a meeting with Berger, Moore and two executive producers. The documentary really began taking shape in April 2022. A crew came out to Berger’s home in Florida to interview her.
“I’m apparently a big part of the documentary,” Berger laughed. “I like to be in the background. I don’t really like to be in the foreground. But if I had to do it so that the story can be told and of course, because my grandfather was involved, to make him, you know, front center, I absolutely was down to do that.”
Neither Berger nor Moore lives in Marion anymore, but they wanted to make sure Marion was acknowledged in the documentary. After all, the years Moore, Berger, and Newton spent as friends in Marion growing up were the connections that made the documentary a possibility.
“Yes, we’re giving great exposure to these men, but it’s also a great nod to the history or added history, in a good way of Marion. Marion is a great place to have grown up and Marion has a lot of things that had to offer and this is just part of it,” Moore said. “And we just want to make sure that this part also gets recognized as far as Marion roots and what people from Marion can do with their talents.”
The one-hour documentary special, “Our America: Mission Montford Point,” premieres on Tuesday, Sept. 20 on ABC-owned stations and most streaming platforms, including Apple TV, Hulu, Prime Video and Roku.
COLUMBUS, Wis. — Sarah Motiff has voted for Sen. Ron Johnson every time his name appeared on the ballot, starting in 2010 when the Wisconsin Republican was first elected as part of the tea party wave. Fond of his tough views on spending, she began the year planning to support his reelection again.
She became skeptical this summer as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection reported his office discussed giving then-Vice President Mike Pence certificates with fake presidential electors for Donald Trump from Wisconsin and Michigan, part of a broader push to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. Johnson has downplayed the effort and the certificates were never given to Pence, but Motiff, a political independent, wasn’t convinced.
“I’m not going to lie when I say I’ve had some concerns about some of the reports that have come out,” the 52-year-old nonpartisan city councilwoman from Columbus, Wisconsin, said. “It just put a bad taste in my mouth.”
Nudged further by the June U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, Motiff is opposing Johnson and supports his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, in one of the most fiercely-contested Senate races this year.
“Which was really a hard decision for me because I do think he’s done good things in the past,” Motiff said of Johnson. “But this is pretty damaging.”
Motiff’s evolution represents the challenge for Republicans emerging from a tumultuous summer, defined by the court decision, high-profile hearings on former President Donald Trump’s actions during the insurrection and intensifying legal scrutiny of his handling of classified information and efforts to overturn the election. Now, a midterm campaign that the GOP hoped would be a referendum on President Joe Biden and the economy is at risk of becoming a comparison of the two parties, putting Republicans in an unexpectedly defensive position.
In politically-divided Wisconsin where recent elections have been decided by a few thousand votes, the outcome could hinge on self-described independent voters like Motiff.
“Having former President Trump so prominently in the news in so many ways makes it easier for Democrats to frame the midterm as a choice between two competing futures as opposed to a referendum on the Democrat governance,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “That’s hurting Republicans. It’s distracting from the referendum message and allowing more of a focus on a choice of two different parties.”
That tension is playing out in Columbia County, Wisconsin, a constellation of tidy small towns surrounded by rolling dairy farm country, all within commuting distance of Madison.
Statewide, top-of-the-ticket candidates have won by barely a percentage point in the past three elections. Trump won Columbia County by a little more than 500 votes out of 33,000 cast in 2020.
In interviews with more than a dozen independent voters here over two days last week, many were rethinking their support of the GOP this fall.
Steve Gray, a self-described Republican-leaning independent “but never a Trump fan,” opposed the June court decision, because he backs abortion rights. But the 61-year-old school maintenance manager also resented what he saw as an unwelcome political power play by out-of-power Republicans.
“Trump stacked the Supreme Court. We all knew he wanted to overturn Roe,” said Gray, of small-town Rio, where Trump won by two votes in 2020. “That decision was a partisan hand grenade Trump threw into this election.”
The court decision “upended the physics of midterm elections,” said Jesse Stinebring, a pollster advising several Democratic campaigns.
It gave voters the rare opportunity to judge a policy advance backed by the minority party, distracting them from a pure up-or-down vote on majority Democrats, he said.
“The backlash from a political perspective isn’t directed at the traditional party in power, but is actually reframed in terms of this Republican control of the Supreme Court,” Stinebring said.
The decision made Dilaine Noel’s vote automatic.
The 29-year-old data analytics director for a Madison-area business said she had never affiliated with either party.
Despite her grievances about Democrats’ warring moderate and liberal wings, her support for abortion rights gave her no choice than to vote for the party’s candidates this fall.
“By default, I have to move in that direction,” said Noel, from small-town Poynette in the Wisconsin River valley. “I’m being forced to.”
Mary Percifield is a lifelong independent voter who says the abortion decision motivated her to vote Democratic because she worries the court might overturn other rights.
“A right has been taken away from us,” the 68-year-old customer service representative from Pardeeville, said. “I question if a woman’s right to vote will be taken away. A woman’s right for birth control.”
Independent voters who lean neither Democrat nor Republican nationally preferred Biden over Trump, 52 percent to 37 percent in 2020, and preferred Democrats over Republicans in U.S. House races by a similar margin in the 2018 midterms, according to AP VoteCast. Independents who lean neither Democrat nor Republican made up 5 percent of the 2020 electorate and 12 percent in 2018.
Independents had moved toward Republicans by early this year, seeking answers on the economy, said Republican pollster David Winston, a senior adviser to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. But they have drifted back toward Democrats as efforts by GOP leaders to focus on the economy have clashed with Republican attacks on the Justice Department and Trump’s continuing complaints about the 2020 election.
“Everything is suddenly back in the context of Trump,” Winston said in light of Trump’s prominent endorsement of Senate candidates and protests of the federal investigation into classified documents recovered from his Florida home. “It’s not that Democrats are gaining. It’s that Republicans over the summer were off talking about a variety of things. And independents are thinking, ‘If you’re not talking specifically about the problems that I’m concerned about, why am I listening?’”
Republicans remain optimistic about their chances in November, particularly about netting the handful of seats they need to regain the U.S. House majority. Inflation remains high and, despite a recent uptick, approval of Biden is still low for a party hoping to maintain its hold on power.
The economy remains the most effective message and one that breaks through others, GOP campaign officials say.
“Prices and things are so front-of-mind to people,” said Calvin Moore, the communications director for Congressional Leadership Fund, a superPAC supporting Republican U.S. House candidates. “It’s not just something that’s on the news. It’s something they are experiencing every day in their daily life. It’s something they face themselves every day when they go to the grocery store.”
A shift by independents is particularly meaningful in Wisconsin, as Republicans work to overtake Democrats’ one-seat majority in the Senate.
Johnson, among the most vulnerable Republicans running for reelection this fall, is locked in a tight race with Barnes, Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor. Of the most competitive Senate seats this year, his is the only one held by a Republican.
Though Johnson dismissed testimony about fake electors as staff work which never reached him, it reminded Christian Wood, an independent voter from Lodi, of Johnson’s opposition to certifying the election before Jan. 6. Johnson reversed course after the riot.
“It’s absolutely scary,” said Wood, who has often voted Republican. “To me that’s the most existential threat to our democracy. And to think he was even considering it makes him a non-starter.”
There’s time for an economic message to win out, but it will require news about Trump fading, GOP pollster Ayres said.
Meanwhile, Trump has a full schedule of fall campaign travel for candidates he has endorsed.
“Any distraction from that focus undermines the best Republican message,” he said.
RICHMOND — An eastern Indiana police officer who was shot in the head during a traffic stop in August has died more than two weeks after she was removed from life support, authorities said.
Richmond Police Department Officer Seara Burton died Sunday night at a Reid Health facility surrounded by her family, the department said in a statement posted to Facebook.
“We would sincerely like to thank the Richmond community, and those who have supported Seara, her family, and the department from near and far,” the statement from several officials said.
Burton was critically wounded in the shooting Aug. 10. The 28-year-old officer was moved to hospice care, two days after she was removed from life support on Sept. 1 at a hospital in Dayton, Ohio.
Burton’s remains were to be escorted by Richmond police and other agencies from the Dayton area on Monday afternoon.
Burton was a four-year veteran of the department in Richmond, about 65 miles east of Indianapolis.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he and his wife, Janet, are mourning with Burton’s family, colleagues and the Richmond community, saying in a statement that “our hearts are heavy.”
“Janet and I send our condolences to Officer Burton’s family and loved ones as they search for peace and strength from a power greater than all we can muster,” he said.
Prosecutors have charged Phillip Matthew Lee, 47, with three counts of attempted murder, three drug possession counts for methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin and possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. He has pleaded not guilty.
A message seeking comment on whether Lee was now expected to face a murder charge was left Monday morning for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office by The Associated Press.
Authorities have said officers stopped Lee and called Burton to assist with her police dog. The dog indicated the possible presence of narcotics. Court documents say that while officers were speaking with the rider, he pulled out a gun and opened fire toward the officers, shooting Burton. Other officers returned fire and he ran away. Lee was apprehended following a brief foot chase.
No other officers were shot.
Lee was treated for gunshot wounds, police said.
Instructor Joanne Breen is offering a watercolors class beginning Sept. 20. The six-session course will be offered every Tuesday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Hostess House at 723 W. Fourth St. in Marion. Participants must be 18 or older. The cost is $60 for the course. For more information call 765-662-2284 or 317-603-3355.
The Grant County Historical Society will meet on Wednesday, September 21 at 6:15 p.m. in Meeting Room B at the Marion Public Library for its monthly meeting. The public is invited to attend. For more information, visit www. grantcountyinhistory.org
The September edition of the Carnegie Lecture Series by the History Center at Marion Public Library is Friday, September 23 at 5:30 p.m. Dr. Tom Jones will give a presentation about the Summer of 1787: A Miracle in Philadelphia. Dr. Jones is a Halbrook Distinguished Chair of American Government and Professor of History Emeritus at Taylor University. The event will be held in the Carnegie Room in the History Center at Marion Public Library – 600 S Washington St, Marion, IN 46953. For questions, call the Museum Director at 765-668-2900 x 1131
The 46th James Dean Festival is coming to Grant County Friday through Sunday with a variety of activities for the whole family, including a James Dean look-alike contest, a parade, carnival rides, a classic car show and more. Thomas Gabriel, grandchild of Johnny Cash, will headline on Friday at 8 p.m. in a free concert. Visit www. thejamesdeanmuseum.com for more information.
The Alzheimer’s/Dementia support group of Grant County is participating in Muncie’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, September 24. Register for free by going to ww.alz.org/walk and search for our team: Grant County Flower Power, Team ID#752188; there you can register or make a donation. For more information, contact Sabrina Wilds at 765-662-3929.
The Your Friends Closet ministry will be open September 24 from 9 a.m. to noon. Your Friends Closet is a sharing ministry filled with donated items at Maple Run Friends Church at 4460 W 400 S in Marion.
On Friday and Saturday, the Salvation Army rummage sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 359 N. Bradner Ave. in Marion. Anyone who wishes to donate items to the sale can bring them to the Social Services office between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Lakeview Wesleyan is hosting the Priscilla Shirer “Going Beyond” simulcast on Saturday, October 1 at 5316 S Western in Marion. Christian recording artist Anthony Evans will lead worship. Doors open at 8:15 a.m. and the event is 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free and lunch is provided, but attendees must register in advance online at lakeviewwesleyan.org/simulcast or by calling 765-674-7715. The registration deadline is September 24.
The Kirk Strasser Memorial Golf Scramble is Sunday, October 2 at 1 p.m. at the Walnut Creek Golf Course. With a shotgun start, four-person teams will play 18 holes. $45 per person includes the 18 holes and a cart. Proceeds fund a scholarship in Kirk’s honor at Madison Grant High School. Contact Tony Melton at 765-506-6971 to register your team.
The Grant County Crop Hunger Walk will have an informational meeting regarding a fundraising event on Tuesday, October 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Marion Church of the Brethren, 2302 S. Geneva Avenue, Marion, IN. There will be guest speakers from the Salvation Army and St. Martin’s Community Center to share information on their needs and to answer questions. For more information, contact Caroline Martin at 765-669-3880.
The Marion-Grant County Senior Center is hosting a Euchre tournament from from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 503 South Gallatin St. in Marion. The entry fee is $10 and there will be opportunities to win many prizes.
The Hostess House is hosting, its first Wine and Yoga Night on October 6 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at 723 W 4th St. Yoga for all ability levels will start at 6 with wine and charcuterie boards following at 7. Cost is $30 per person. Please register at the Hostess House and bring your own yoga mat, if possible.
The Marion/Grant County Humane Society is hosting a fundraiser dinner on Thursday, October 13 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Rocks Tenderloin Dinner will be at Hontz Hall in Gas City. $12 per person includes tenderloin, chips, beans, slaw and a drink and guests can pay extra for dessert. There will be a silent auction and 50/50 drawing and all proceeds benefit the Humane Society.
St. James Lutheran Church will be hosting a Mauck’s Pulled Pork Sandwich, Pork Loin Sandwich or Loaded Baked Potato sale on Saturday, October 15, 4-6:30 p.m., at 1206 N. Miller Avenue, Marion. Dine in; carry out; or curb side pickup. Adults advance tickets are $9; at the door $10; and $5 for kids 12 and under. Proceeds go to Hands of Hope and St. Martin’s Community Center. For further information, call 765-662-3092.
The Gas City Farmer’s Market can be found each Wednesday, through October, at 1028 E. Main Street (next to McDonald’s) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Save Your $ Farm Stand can be found Saturdays, through October, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 1422 E. 38th Street (across from Poppy’s Xtreme Donuts).
Needham – Storey – Wampner Funeral Service will host a “Grief, Care & Share” event at the Holiday Inn Express on North Baldwin Avenue at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 and Oct. 17. For more information call 765-664-5030.
WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell bluntly warned in a speech last month that the Fed’s drive to curb inflation by aggressively raising interest rates would “bring some pain.” On Wednesday, Americans may get a better sense of how much pain could be in store.
The Fed is expected at its latest meeting to raise its key short-term rate by a substantial three-quarters of a point for the third consecutive time. Another hike that large would lift its benchmark rate – which affects many consumer and business loans – to a range of 3 percent to 3.25 percent, the highest level in 14 years.
In a further sign of the Fed’s deepening concern about inflation, it will also likely signal that it plans to raise rates much higher by year’s end than it had forecast three months ago – and to keep them higher for a longer period.
Economists expect Fed officials to forecast that their key rate could go as high as 4 percent by the end of this year. They’re also likely to signal additional increases in 2023, perhaps to as high as roughly 4.5 percent.
Short-term rates at that level would make a recession likelier next year by sharply raising the cost of mortgages, car loans and business loans. The Fed intends those higher borrowing costs to slow growth by cooling off a still-robust job market to cap wage growth and other inflation pressures. Yet the risk is growing that the Fed may weaken the economy so much as to cause a downturn that would produce job losses.
The U.S. economy hasn’t seen rates as high as the Fed is projecting since before the 2008 financial crisis. Last week, the average fixed mortgage rate topped 6 percent, its highest point in 14 years. Credit card borrowing costs have reached their highest level since 1996, according to Bankrate.com.
Powell and other Fed officials still say the Fed’s goal is to achieve a so-called “soft landing,” by which they would slow growth enough to tame inflation but not so much as to trigger a recession.
By last week, though, that goal appeared further out of reach after the government reported that inflation over the past year was a painful 8.3 percent. Even worse, so-called core prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy categories, rose much faster than expected.
The inflation report also documented just how broadly inflation has spread through the economy, complicating the the Fed’s anti-inflation efforts. Inflation now appears increasingly fueled by higher wages and by consumers’ steady desire to spend and less by the supply shortages that had bedeviled the economy during the pandemic recession.
“They’re going try to avoid recession,” said William Dudley, formerly the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “They’re going to try to achieve a soft landing. The problem is that the room to do that is virtually non-existent at this point.”
At a news conference he will give Wednesday after the Fed meeting ends, Powell isn’t likely to drop any hints that the central bank will ease up on its credit tightening campaign. Most economists expect the Fed to stop raising rates in early 2023. But for now, they expect Powell to reinforce his hard-line anti-inflation stance.
“It’s going to end up being a hard landing,” said Kathy Bostjancic, an economist at Oxford Economics.
“He’s not going to say that,” Bostjancic said. But, referring to the most recent Fed meeting in July, when Powell raised hopes for an eventual pullback on rate hikes, she added: “He also wants to make sure that the markets don’t come away and rally. That’s what happened last time.”
Indeed, investors responded then by bidding up stock prices and buying bonds, which lowered rates on securities like the benchmark the 10-year Treasury. Higher stock prices and lower bond yields generally boost the economy – the opposite of what the Fed wants.
At a previous news conference in June, Powell had noted that a three-quarter-point rate hike was “an unusually large one” and suggested that “I do not expect moves of this size to be common.” Yet after the alarming August inflation report, the Fed now seems all but sure to announce its third consecutive such increase. A fourth such hike is possible, too, if future measures of inflation don’t improve.
The central bank has already engaged in the fastest series of interest rate hikes since the early 1980s. Yet some economists – and some Fed officials – argue that they have yet to raise rates to a level that would actually restrict borrowing and spending and slow growth.
Loretta Mester, president of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank, and one of the 12 officials who will vote on the Fed’s decision this week, said she thinks it will be necessary to raise the Fed’s rate to “somewhat above 4 percent by early next year and hold it there.”
“I do not anticipate the Fed cutting” rates next year, Mester added, dispelling the expectations of many investors on Wall Street who had hoped for such a reversal. Comments like Mester’s contributed to a sharp fall in stock prices last month that began after Powell’s stern anti-inflation speech at an economic conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
“Our responsibility to deliver price stability is unconditional,” Powell said then – a remark widely interpreted to mean that the Fed will fight inflation even if it requires deep job losses and a recession.
Many economists sound convinced that a recession and widespread layoffs will be necessary to slow rising prices. Research published earlier this month under the auspices of the Brookings Institution concluded that unemployment might have to go as high as 7.5 percent to get inflation back to the Fed’s 2 percent target.
Only a downturn that harsh would reduce wage growth and consumer spending enough to cool inflation, according to the a paper by Johns Hopkins University economist Laurence Ball and two economists at the International Monetary Fund.