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The Flare Magazine
Contents The Beauty of Gray Brandy Eubanks
Elvis ’n’ Nama Kasi Dickerson
Out of the Box Ashton Johnson
Political Face-Off Jonathen Ruesch
Life Force of Person Elizabeth Wisdom
Showdown at Mount Carmel
insight Herd Mentality Jonathen Ruesch Kasi Dickerson
Beyond the Burn Randi Vinson
Cover photograph by Elizabeth Wisdom
5 9 10 12 14 18 20 28 32 34 36 39
This ongoing body of work explores the ideology of religion, culture and human nature. Elvis lives on through a fan’s memorabilia. A local video store flourishes in the age of Netflix and Redboxes. See the facts about presidential candidates for the upcoming race for the White House. This collection of work expresses the unique spirit in each of us. Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? KC Police Chief Martin Pessink recounts his experience during the Branch Davidian standoff. Students display selections that go beyond reality. A commentary on social media’s connection to ignorance and assumption. East Texas wildfires leave behind an unexpected beauty. This abstract body of work embraces the digital age. See back page for those who made this magazine possible.
Back cover photograph by Randi Branson
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Editors...................Kasi Dickerson Elizabeth Wisdom Ad manager..........Betsy Foreman Illustrator...........Ashley Forrestier Photographers: Randi Branson, Kasi Dickerson, Brandy Eubanks, Jamie Maldonado, Randi Vinson, Elizabeth Wisdom, Hayley Young Writers: Kasi Dickerson, Daniel Guy, Ashton Johnson, Jonathen Ruesch Photography Adviser: O. Rufus Lovett Adviser: Bettye Craddock
Editors’ Note: After 45 printouts of cover designs, 35 hours of sleep in a week and 40 full pages, we completed our second Flare Magazine as editors. Being our second time around, we thought we were ahead of the game when we started asking for ideas and suggestions in February. It turned out our early start meshed into one challenging, but exciting week. This project allowed us to showcase a culmination of the skills we learned at Kilgore College. We had free reign to create, design and publish ideas our staff believed in. Thank you to all of the contributors who were a part of this publication. A special thank you to Bettye Craddock and O. Rufus Lovett for making this magazine possible and our college experience a true blessing. Kasi Dickerson and Elizabeth Wisdom
DISCLAIMER: Editorial staff positions are held by Kilgore College communications students. Comments and views expressed in The Flare Magazine reflect the thoughts of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or opinions of other students, staff members, faculty members, administrative officers or the Board of Trustees.
Photography by Brandy Eubanks5
Photography by Brandy Eubanks
is an ongoing photographic journey exploring the ideology of religion, culture and human nature. This project has become a personal challenge sparked from my childhood’s inability to comprehend the diverse people involved in religion and God. This selection of images is the genesis of a puzzle that I hope to piece together to fulfill my quest for knowledge. I aspire to discover through my visual responses in religious places that regardless of one’s place in society, race, faith or gender preference, the “greater good” is a part of us all. One spiritual leader suggested to me that perhaps the differences in Christian interpretations relate to one’s choosing to believe the “word of God” (the literal black and white) or the “grace of God” (the gray area between the black and white) where we find the connection between us all, despite physical or theoretical aspects. It is the grace of God that inspires me to search for the relationship between individuality and spiritual existence. It is my pursuit to someday offer documentation to enable the acceptance of various cultures and religions. It is this gray area that I find intriguing and hope to discover the symmetry of life as I continue to research spiritual diversification.
Elvis Story and photo By Kasi Dickerson
lvis may have left the building, but he has never wandered very far from the heart of a 67-year-old grandma who claims to be one of his biggest fans. And now, Elvis has moved into her home. Well, sort of. Van Zandt County resident Sharon Swenson (Nama) renovated what was once a playroom for her grandchildren into a living memory to the King of Rock ’n’ Roll. A 6-foot cardboard cutout reminds visitors of his Vegas tour as soon as they open the white wooden door into the room. Postcards and photographs cover the walls and show the many faces of Elvis. And her 1950s-style juke box playing the best of Elvis brings anyone who steps in this 12-by-14 room right back to an Elvis concert. Wallets, purses, playing cards, 37 movies, lottery tickets, luggage and more memorabilia make this room a living scrapbook. Even down to the Elvis Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on the shelves, this room breathes Elvis. “It definitely has a lot of character. It is something different from an ordinary bedroom,” she said. “Sometimes I just sit in it at night and look around at all the stuff. There are a lot of memories from family members who have gotten me Elvis mementos.” With a whole room dedicated to Elvis, it might come as a shock to know that when Swenson first saw Elvis on TV in 1956 she was appalled by his performance. “When I was in high school, I saw Elvis on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’” Swenson said. “Even though it was in black and white, his sexual movements were disgusting. But I have to admit, I still fell in love with his voice.” As history has proven, that first TV performance on Sept. 9, 1956, was the first in a lifetime of entertainment for the man whose moves became an iconic figure for rock ’n’ roll, and whose success set an unbeatable standard in the music industry. “The second time I heard his music, I was hooked,” she said. “I have been a great fan ever since.” Easter of 1974 brought her much more than the usual
dyed eggs and marshmallow Peeps; she landed tickets to an Elvis concert in Phoenix, Ariz. “The first time I saw him on stage I was in awe. I never thought I’d see him in person,” Swenson said. “I could never understand how grown women could scream and cry over someone on stage. Yet there I was – 29-years-old – standing on the chair screaming until I couldn’t breathe. It was the most unbelievable performance I had ever seen. I will never forget it. He sang for the whole two hours.” Elvis performed in nearly 1,100 concerts from 1969 to 1977. He toured America breaking box office records throughout the ’70s. His last concert was June 26, 1977, in Indianapolis, Ind. He died a month later on Aug. 16, 1977. “I distinctly remember the day he died,” Swenson said. “I was in the living room watching TV and folding clothes. Suddenly, a news broadcaster flashed on the screen– ‘Elvis is dead.’ I threw the laundry basket and broke down. I couldn’t stop crying. I could not believe it.” A small shadow box on the floor of her Elvis room holds the Enquire magazine announcing Elvis’ death, reminding her that his death was indeed true. Years later she stood at the foot of Elvis’ grave at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., alongside many others who quietly wiped their tears and suddenly even those who knew little about Elvis Presley understood. He symbolized the voice of a generation. The “King of Rock ’n’ Roll” may be dead but at my nama’s b house his memory and his music live on.o
out of the box Boomtown Video store beats Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster Story by Ashton Johnson Photography by Jamie Maldonado
live close to what was once the richest acre in the world, not next to a Walmart or convenience store. My walls are not painted apple red, but rows of handmade shelves hold my 14,700 videos for everyone to see. My visitors don’t poke my face or rush off without saying hello. My visitors? They pull open my swinging glass doors and fill me with that good old East Texas breeze. I’m not Redbox or Netflix. I am Boomtown Video store–the way video stores used to be. Boomtown Video opened in 1989 and despite technological advances continues to flourish today with its old-fashioned flavor and owners Walter and Sandra Florence. “I never imagined owning a video store,” explained Walter. “Our daughter and son-in-law were the first owners, but when our son-in-law hurt his back and moved to West Texas, we took it over.” The “olden” days seemed to be golden for Walter, who is 70, and Sandra, 69. Married for 51 years, he and Sandra were childhood friends and rode the same school bus in neighboring Overton. Walter has held several retail management positions while Sandra, a Kilgore College honor graduate, is a successful part-time accountant and specializes in income tax preparation. “I do all of the paperwork and he does the business,” Sandra said. “We work together and get along really well.” They have three daughters, five grandchildren and not a lot of free time on their hands. Open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. five days a week, Boomtown Video is closed on Sundays and Mondays. “We began closing on Mondays after my wife’s cancer surgery seven years ago,” Walter said. “We’re usually up here on Sunday afternoons putting out new
releases and what not.” While technology has made Redbox and Netflix services a convenient choice for those seeking instant entertainment, not everyone has embraced the technology change. This has created an opportunity for retailers willing to take the road less traveled. “I don’t think we’re in competition with Redbox,” Walter said. “We have a larger variety of movies and we don’t take credit cards. You would be surprised by how many people don’t go to Redbox because they don’t have a credit or debit card.” Despite economic challenges, Boomtown Video has managed to stay afloat in the movie rental business by eliminating debt and maintaining a steady flow of customers. “We don’t have any large debt and we pay cash for everything,” Walter said. “We don’t buy it unless we have the money for it and everything in here we built.”
Walter and Sandra Florence have owned Boomtown Video for about 21 years. The business has a membership of 16,000.
Boomtown Video’s one-day rentals are $1.49 for DVDs and $1.99 for Blu-rays. “Our prices are reasonable and the customers enjoy coming in to browse our shelves instead of looking at a computer screen,” Sandra said. “Plus, Walter is great at helping our clients pick out movies.” The commitment to the business and the customers is what has kept Boomtown Video in business for 24 years. “We will bend over backwards for our customers,” Walter said. “Our clientele is great and we enjoy helping them.” Finding out what people want isn’t just good business, it’s good customer service. “It is really the only place to rent movies in Kilgore,” said Kilgore resident Lakeshia Henderson. “It is very familyoriented and the Florences are so friendly.” The business has a membership of 16,000, the most members in its history. “Each member has a card,” Walter said. “I don’t know
how many of those 16,000 still come in, but we have a lot of regular customers.” Whether it’s horror, science fiction or Western, Boomtown Video has them and continues to add to its collection. Its broad selection, especially the hard-to-find and out-ofprint movies, attracts customers who know they will be able to find even the most obscure films at the store. “We currently have 11,500 DVDs, 3,000 VHS and about 200 Blu-ray movies,” Walter said. “Most of them are older, but we’ve come to find that is what our customers enjoy.” With most of the competition eliminated, Sandra and Walter are pleased to have kept the family business alive. “We’ve really enjoyed getting to know so many of our customers,” Sandra said. “So many of them are like our family.” Sandra and Walter might not get rich in this line of work, but passion keeps them going long after the credits roll.o b
ith the November Presidential election approaching, The Flare Magazine takes a look at the leading candidates and their positions on education, jobs and economy. Information obtained from each candidate’s official campaign website.
Barrack Obama - Democrat Jobs: In his term as president, 446,000 jobs have been added in the manufacturing sector since February 2012. In the auto industry, 233,000 jobs have been added since June 2009. March marked more than two straight years of privatesector job growth—including the first year-over-year gains in manufacturing jobs since 1997. Education: Obama has made education a national priority, doubling the investment in scholarships and financial aid so students from working-class and middle-class families can receive the college education they need to get the good jobs of the future. In order to raise the K-12 standards, Obama is investing in teachers and turning around low-performing schools so that children are better prepared for college and careers. Obama has made college more affordable by
Illustration by Ashley forrestier
doubling funding for Pell Grants, increasing the number of recipients from 6 million to 9 million since 2008. Obama eliminated the middlemen from the college-loan program, which sent the billions of taxpayer dollars that were going to the banks to the students instead. Economy: The economy was losing more than 700,000 jobs per month when Obama took office. Obama acted to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which cut taxes for small businesses and 95 percent of working families. It also included emergency funding to support about 300,000 educator jobs, more than 4,600 law positions and investments in the clean energy sector to support 224,500 jobs through 2010. Obama knows that there is still more work to be done, which is why he laid out a blueprint for an economy that’s built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers and a renewal of American values.
Newt Gingrich - Republican Jobs and Economy: Gingrich’s nine-point Jobs and
Growth Plan says, “America only works when Americans are working.” Through this plan he intends to stop the 2013 tax increases to promote stability in the economy; make the U.S. the most desirable location for new business investment through a bold series of tax cuts; move toward an optional flat tax of 15 percent that would give Americans the freedom to choose to file their taxes on a postcard, which will save a lot of unnecessary costs each year; strengthen the dollar by returning to the Reagan-era money policies; Remove obstacles to job creation imposed by destructive and ineffective regulations, programs and bureaucracies; implement an American energy policy that removes obstacles to responsible energy development and creates jobs in the U.S.; balance the budget by growing the economy, controlling spending, improving money-saving techniques and replacing destructive policies with new ideas; repeal and replace Obamacare with pro-jobs, pro-responsibility health plan that puts doctors and patients in charge of health decisions and fundamental reform of entitlement programs with the advice and help of the American people. Education: No Statement
Ron Paul - Republican Jobs: No statement Education: As a congressman, Paul supported home
schooling and educational freedom, saying that a onesize-fits-all program does not work. In order to make it easier to have parents put back in charge of their children’s education, Paul introduced legislation to the idea of providing home schooling parents with a $5,000 per child tax credit for tutors, books, computers and other K-12 related education needs. Paul also wants to ensure that the federal government views high school diplomas earned through home schooling the same as they view a regular high school diploma. Economy: Ron Paul plans on leading the way out of the tough economy by: Vetoing any unbalanced budget Congress sends to his desk; refusing to further raise the debt ceiling to stop politicians from spending recklessly; fighting to fully audit and later end the Federal Reserve System; legalizing sound money so that the government
is forced to get serious about the dollar’s value; ending the corporate stranglehold on the White House; driving down gas prices by allowing offshore drilling, abolishing highway motor fuel taxes, increasing the mileage reimbursement rates and offering tax credits to individuals and businesses for the use and production of natural gas vehicles; eliminating the income, capital gains and death taxes; and opposing all unfunded mandates and unnecessary regulations of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Mitt Romney - Republican Jobs: To jump-start economic growth, American workers must have the skills that are needed to unlock their full potential. Romney has two important objectives that America can pursue immediately to build on the extraordinary traditional strengths of its workforce. First, retrain American workers to ensure that they have the education and skills to match the jobs of today’s economy. Second, attract the best and brightest from around the world. Education: Improving education in America is a priority
of Romney’s. He believes that no parent should have to send a child to a failing school, which makes for a better outcome for all students. Romney realizes that teacher quality is the keystone of student success. Based on past experience as a governor, Romney is aware of what governors can accomplish when empowered to reform their education system, when education entrepreneurs are given the freedom to change, when teachers are rewarded for increasing student achievement and when students are allowed to select a school or educational program that meets their needs. Economy: Romney plans on rebuilding the foundations of the American economy on the principles of free enterprise, hard work and innovation. This plan includes, but is not limited to, reducing taxes, spending, regulation and government programs and in turn increasing trade, energy production, human capital and labor flexibility. The plan gives power to the states instead of claiming to have every problem’s solution.
Rick Santorum - Republican Bowed out of the presidential race April 10. o b
Compiled by jonathen ruesch
person Photography by Elizabeth Wisdom
here is something surprisingly unique and interesting to be discovered in every portrait subject. This selection of photographs captures the individuality that each person possesses. Just as the eyes are truly the windows to the soul, my lens reflects my emotional response toward my subjects and their relationship with the chosen environments. It is within these images that I travel a fine line that creates a flux between applied portraiture and a personal expressive approach freeing my interpretive spirit.
W o n d e r
By Daniel Guy
The world is jaded. We’ve stopped looking at the stars. We’ve stopped reading. We’re cynical and lazy, able to point out the injustices in the world but not able or willing to do anything about them. We act out of a hope that things will get better seemingly of their own accord. There is no wonder in the world because there is nothing left to see. Land masses have been mapped. The stars are just burning gas and there is no dark place on this earth that isn’t touched by McDonald’s or British Petroleum or some other symbol of the burning light of human progress. It wouldn’t surprise me if a Starbucks is being built at the bottom of Mariana Trench. Or that is what I thought until I realized it wasn’t the world that was lacking wonder–it is me. If jadedness is a disease of perspective, it isn’t the world that needs to re-examine itself– it is me. Wonder doesn’t exist out there. Objects hold no value until we give them value. I will never be able to see the value in the world until I see the value in myself. I moved to Nevada right out of high school to live with my father. At the time, I was 18 and embodied everything that being 18 implies. That autumn, I went with my father on a trip to Canada. We drove for more than a day and a half–all through the night without sleeping–before we stopped
in Montana. I remember being so tired that my head was pounding from lack of sleep, but as soon as I saw the lake at the foot of the hill of our campsite, so blue and so round, it all became clear why we had driven through the night. It became clear why any of us have done anything. I was so in awe of this first stop and we hadn’t even yet reached our destination. Holding that awe, that sense of wonder in myself, I could see that the stars are not just burning gas. They are radiant titans that literally warp the fabric of time and space around them, clutching at all that pass, drawing them into a burning maw. The burning light of human progress is wonderful. For every example of greedy corporate exploitation we have examples of people doing amazing things for their own sake. For every McDonald’s there is a Red Cross. For every Political Action Committee there is a group of Afghanistan war veterans smoke-jumping into a forest fire. Human history seems to have been about wonder, about testing the boundaries of our frontiers. My frontier is closer to home. My frontier is myself. The world will always be jaded until I cure myself of my own jadedness. And if we ever open a Starbucks at the bottom of the ocean I will be the first one to order a latté. o b
estled in a Central Texas field where chirping crickets replace the roar of highway traffic, a small white church stands overlooking a U-shaped white gravel driveway. It is about six minutes off of Loop 340 in Waco and its hidden location is serene with lush green grasses, blooming dandelions and draping trees. Standing in front of the church today a visitor wouldnâ€™t realize the history of the area and the war zone it once was . . .
Photograph by Jamie maldonado
Story by Kasi Dickerson
“ Vernon Howell
was going to make his ” prophecycome
Nineteen years ago a religious group called the Branch Davidians led by Vernon Howell occupied this area of Mount Carmel. In 1990, Howell changed his name to David (after King David of the Israelites) Koresh (after the Babylonian King Cyrus. Koresh is Hebrew for Cyrus.) The group believed Howell was Christ and that the end of the world was coming in a cataclysmic confrontation between the Branch Davidians and the government. Because of this belief he renamed Mount Carmel “Ranch Apocalypse.” At about 9:30 a.m. Feb. 28, 1993, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) began to execute an arrest warrant for Vernon Howell and a search warrant for the Branch Davidian Compound. Kilgore College Police Department Chief Martin Pessink was working in special operations (SWAT) for the Waco Police Department at the time of the raid. He explains his side of the story based on his first-hand observations and information he received. “What led up to the warrant was that UPS had received packages to deliver out to their compound and one of the boxes fell and broke open and it spilled out a bunch of fragmentation hand grenades,” Pessink said. “This was not in the city of Waco; it was out in McLennan County so they notified the sheriff’s department. That’s what prompted the investigation by ATF and the sheriff’s department.” When the ATF tried to serve the warrant on Feb. 28, 1993, the agents came under immediate gunfire, according to the “Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas.” “That morning my wife woke me up and said, ‘You better come see what’s on the television,’” Pessink said. “It was on Channel 10 and what we saw was live footage from the Branch Davidian Compound of a shootout between the Branch Davidians and officers with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms uniform that were trying to serve the warrant.”
Pessink immediately strapped on his gear–a handgun, extra magazines, a utility knife, tear gas–slipped on his bullet-proof vest, military-style black battle dress uniform and Kevlar helmet. He then waited for his pager to buzz, calling him to duty. Within an hour of seeing the TV report, he was called into his office. Waco PD had no knowledge of the situation before officers were briefed on the scene. “We pulled up on a driveway of an adjacent ranch probably about 500 yards away from the Branch Davidian compound and there was a large water tower in the center of the compound, and the ATF agent there that was briefing us pointed to the tower and said there was a guy up there with a Barrett .50 caliber rifle. These things have an accuracy of up to a mile for hitting a man’s set target so we all ducked behind our truck,” Pessink said. There are differing viewpoints on who fired the first shots; however, Pessink explains the tactics the ATF used in the raid. “When ATF was getting ready to plan this raid they were at Texas State Technical College. Somehow someone involved out there, not associated with ATF, knew one of the reporters from Channel 10 and called him and said, ‘They’re staging for a warrant and I think they are going to the Branch Davidian compound.’ He (the reporter) was there and ineffectually alerted the Branch Davidians by his presence that someone was coming so they prepared ahead of time,” Pessink said. “The tactics that ATF used in serving the warrant have been questioned for 20 years, but one of the things you do in a tactical operation is try and establish an element of surprise. If you can go through with surprise, rapid response and fast control of a situation
From left: The rusty remains of a school bus the Davidians used as a bunker to stockpile food and ammunition lies half-buried at the center. The Branch Davidians changed their name to The Branch, The Lord Our Righteousness.
KCPD Chief Martin Pessink responded to the Branch Davidian shootout Feb. 28, 1993, while working in Special Operations (SWAT) in Waco.
1. Elizabeth wisdom
1. The New Mount Carmel Center as a church and historic site includes a chapel that is open to the public. The doors are the original ones from the compound. 2. Remnants of an underground storm shelter remain from the Branch Davidian compound. 3. David Koresh’s (Vernon Howell) philosophy and photograph are posted inside the chapel along with a T-shirt remembering Mount Carmel victims. 4. Members of the Branch live at the new center including Simueon Laville who shared some of the Davidians’ beliefs with reporters. 5. Memorial plaques sit inside the center’s gates to pay tribute to the Davidians who died during the ATF raid and 51-day siege.
in most cases you can do it without firing a shot which has happened time and time and time again and that’s what they (the ATF) were relying on.” ATF officers had planned on hiding in a covered cattle trailer to serve warrants to Howell and the compound. “Since this was a ranching area, a large truck pulling a cattle trailer was not going to appear unusual unless somebody had dropped a dime (made a phone call) and told them that they were coming, which is what happened,” Pessink said. “So when the truck pulled through the gate the guy with the Barrett .50 put in a round at the engine, killed the engine, blocked the truck, stalled it and opened fire on the trailer. He blew one guy’s head off, shot another through the vest. They were just killing these agents.” The agents who exited the trailer and started making their approach to the house encountered machine-gun fire coming through the walls, through the windows and from the house itself, Pessink notes. “These folks were armed with grenades, machine guns, high-powered rifles and the argument from the
Second Amendment bunch is the right to keep and bear arms and stuff like that, but there are limitations to what type of arms,” Pessink said. “Of course, machine guns, grenades and high explosives are not included in that unless you pay the taxes.” Four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians died in the initial raid. Even though Mount Carmel was essentially outside of Waco, the Waco PD still had officers there trying to help get the situation under control on Feb. 28. “The intelligence we were receiving said Vernon Howell was threatening to shoot their way out of the compound and go into town and take over one of our hospitals,” Pessink said. “We put out SWAT team officers on the exit of the roads that were leaving out of the compound.” After they returned to town the next day, however, the city administration said its city officers would not go back to the scene. They did, however, secure the hospital one more day. Pessink says that a year before the raid, his SWAT
2. Randi Vinson
3. Elizabeth Wisdom
5. Jamie Maldonado 4. Elizabeth Wisdom
unit trained in an abandoned house on an intersection between the highway that led to the compound and the loop on the east side of Waco. This house stood beside a mechanic’s garage. “We didn’t know that the mechanics running the garage were Vernon Howell’s lieutenants and at that date they went out there and told them ATF was out there so they barricaded themselves then,” Pessink said. Confrontation is not foreign to the Davidians. In 1987, Howell and his followers relocated to Palestine after they were forced out of the compound by the Davidian leader George Roden. Howell and Roden each claimed to be the prophet and this conflict ended in a gunfight when Howell and several armed men made a night raid on the Mount Carmel compound. Roden had earlier illegally exhumed a corpse, placed the body in the chapel and challenged Howell to resurrect the body. If Howell could do so then he would become the next leader. Howell refused and his followers notified the McLennan County Sheriff’s Department, but officials demanded proof before taking action.
“When Vernon Howell and his sect moved from Palestine to Waco to take over that compound they got into a shootout with each other. The sheriff’s department responded at that time and everybody said King’s X (time out) and put their guns down,” Pessink said. “When they went to trial in the McLennan County Courthouse, these folks (the Davidians) dug up one of their prophets out on their property and carried this casket into the rotunda of the court house–which tells you what kind of folks you’re dealing with.” Howell and seven of his followers were arrested and charged with attempted murder. Roden said that the group was trying to kill him. Howell and his men were later set free, but Roden was given a six-month jail sentence for violating a restraining order and for contempt of court because of a series of legal actions he filed filled with profanity and threats against the justices of the Texas State Supreme Court. He was later sent to a psychiatric hospital. When Roden was sentenced, Howell took control of Mount Carmel.
On April 19, 1993, the Branch Davidian compound burned ending the 51-day standoff. The original concrete swimming pool remains today.
“That’s how I spentmy 33 birthday, Lying in a ditch out at ” rd
To the Davidians, the ATF’s raid on Feb. 28 fulfilled Howell’s prophecy. According to the “Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas,” Howell confirmed on March 2, 1993, that there were 43 men, 47 women and 20 children inside the compound. Before given this head count, ATF officers and other law enforcement agents on the scene knew there were innocent people inside the compound. Negotiations immediately followed the initial raid. “Our negotiators were working with the county’s negotiators trying to get those kids out,” Pessink said. “We stayed there for 24 hours. That’s how I spent my 33rd birthday, lying in a ditch out at Mount Carmel.” The ATF raid ended when FBI took over negotiations, but a 51-day standoff followed. Negotiators tried to compromise with Howell many times to get him to surrender peacefully. The FBI and Hostage Rescue Team used many tactics to force those inside the compound to come out – like playing loud noises to induce sleep deprivation. They also allowed Howell to record an hour-long audiotape where he preached about his special knowledge of the Seven Seals and the end of the world according to the Book of Revelation and his promise to surrender peacefully after the tape was broadcast. The tape was broadcast nationwide over the Christian Broadcast Network and in Texas over KRLD. Howell did not surrender as promised because he claimed God had spoken to him and told him to wait to surrender. Over the course of the standoff, 38 Davidians either escaped or were released by Howell. Some releases were part of the FBI’s negotiations. On April 19, FBI executed plans to end the standoff by inserting tear gas into the compound. The FBI attached aerosol canisters of tear gas to booms of their tank recovery vehicles. Before injecting the gas, the FBI called inside the compound and warned that gas was about to be introduced and it was not an assault so no one should fire any weapons. Two minutes after the gas plan was initiated the Davidians began shooting the vehicles. FBI then inserted gas into the entire compound. The compound caught fire shortly after. There are differing views on who started the fire. The “Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas,” says “the Davidians started fires at three separate locations within the compound.”
Pessink agrees. “Vernon Howell was going to make his prophecy come true. Regardless of the situation he had a prophecy of death by fire and he was going to make this happen,” Pessink said. “The conspiracy theorists tell us that FBI burned this place down, but they burned themselves up. There were recordings at one time from inside the building saying that ‘the fire is lit, the fire is lit, the fire is lit’ and that’s never been really made public for whatever reason, but that was provided in the intel briefings for law enforcement that was involved in this after the fact.” Nine Davidians survived the fire; Howell (Koresh) was among the dead. “Folks find it hard to believe that 78 people allowed themselves to be burned up in a building, but in Jonestown, Guyana, 900 either drank the Kool-Aid (poison), took an injection if they didn’t want the Kool-Aid or somebody shot and killed them,” Pessink said. On April 19, 1993, the compound burned. On this day, Pessink was 35 miles away securing a local hospital, but he could see the mushroom clouds go up from the explosives inside the compound. He explains that the Davidians had more than just grenades stockpiled because there is a difference in a fire plume and an explosive plume. He also says that most of the children who they found in the aftermath had bullet holes in their heads where somebody had shot them before the place burned. “It was a bad and long-winded deal,” Pessink said. “Before that happened no one knew where Waco, Texas, was. After it happened everyone knew where Waco was.” April 19, 2012, marked the 19th anniversary of the “Waco event.” For many, this day is a day of mixed emotions and remembrance. “I still get a little antsy when the anniversary comes around, especially on April 19. That seems like a rally day for things to happen,” Pessink said. “Even though Waco is a large city, it has a population of over 100,000, we always had that small town, rural, it can’t happen here, type of belief. I think the change with everybody is that anything is possible. Things like this are not isolated to other areas. Things like this can happen in your town too. Don’t get caught unaware. This probably changed everybody involved to some degree. The tragic loss of life that was involved in that situation, in both law enforcement and civilian–everything that took place out there–just makes you stop and reflect.” o b
Brittani Pfau contributed to this story
“The mind which plunges into surrealism, relives with burning excitement the best part of childhood.” – Andre Breton, Surrealist Manifesto, 1924
HerdMentality Story By Jonathen Ruesch • Kasi Dickerson Illustration by Ashley Forrestier
e have become a mindless herd of sheep. We follow the pattern of society by blindly trusting every ounce of information posted on Facebook, Twitter, the Internet or even TV. This herd mentality has consumed our generation. We have become lazy and gullible, losing our ability or desire even to think for ourselves and do our own research before jumping on the bandwagon of ignorance. People are influenced by the plurality of those around them to take on
certain behaviors and trends in fear of being wrong, ostracized or ridiculed. According to the department of psychology at Case Western Reserve University, “Existing evidence supports the hypothesis that the need to belong is a powerful, fundamental and extremely pervasive motivation.” People will inevitably end up in a “herd.” It’s part of human nature. We are essentially animals that have a need to interact with others of our species, but when the desire to belong overrides our ability to make our own
choices we lose the power of reason and logic. Social media make it easy to fall into herd mentality. Every push of a “like” button on Facebook sends you deeper into the herd. For example, Kony 2012 would not be as big as it currently is if it weren’t for Facebook. How many people do you think researched the facts presented in the video before sharing it and how many people do you think shared it just because their friends did? The herd attacked Susan G. Komen
for the Cure when it eliminated the foundation’s funding for Planned Parenthood. This tidbit of information quickly spread across the Internet, causing people to rally against Komen before officials could explain reasons for eliminating the funding for Planned Parenthood. Not researching the issue, the herd was quick to assume that Komen dropped funding because of political reasons and to punish Planned Parenthood. If people had
only educated themselves on the issue before jumping to inaccurate conclusions, the herd would have realized that Planned Parenthood was under investigation and Komen was trying to be responsible. Founder Nancy Brinker said in a press release, “We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not. Our original desire was to fulfill our
fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation.” Because of the herd’s backlash, the affiliate has already lost $50,000 in corporate sponsorship for a Race for the Cure in the fall and at least five high-ranking executives have resigned. Herd mentality can cause one to lose individuality. Choose to stand out from the herd. Research and read the signs before diving off the cliff into b ignorance and assumption. o
Photography by Randi Vinson
hotographing the East Texas Wildfires led to my fascination of the after burn within the landscape. Exploring the burn sites, I discovered an unexpected irony. The beauty of the details from the remains of such a horrible disaster is overwhelming. These still life images allowed my imagination to grow from the pure documentary approach to a level of abstract and wonder not first encountered.
iSelf iPhotography by Jamie Maldonado 36
o much of life is spent on the precipice of terrifying events. We so often want to look past something looming over us. In the “always on” world of smartphones and social networking, we have all the tools we need to disconnect. But it is through these supposed curses of modernity iSee surreal visions of myself enduring the conflagration—and even dominating it.
iDocument these encounters in shadows and reflections with my iPhone and share them with the world on Instagram and Facebook. Through the very tools accused of numbing our hearts and minds, we can dig deeper into ourselves.
Contributors Randi Branson, photographer, is a freshman photography major from Hallsville. Brandy Eubanks, photographer, is a sophomore photography major from Longview. Betsy Foreman, ad manager, is a sophomore communicationsart major from Longview. Ashley Forrestier, illustrator, is a sophomore art major from Kilgore. Kelly Gillit, graphic designer, is a sophomore advertising/graphic design major from Gladewater. Daniel Guy, writer, is a sophomore undecided major from Longview. Ashton Johnson, writer, is a freshman communications major from Kilgore. Jamie Maldonado, photographer, is a sophomore photography major from Longview. Brittani Pfau, writer, is a freshman communications major from White Oak. Jonathen Ruesch, writer, is a sophomore communications major from Gladewater. Justin Smith, graphic designer, is a sophomore advertising/ graphic design major from Gladewater.
Kasi Dickerson, editor, is a sophomore communications-education major from Van. She is also executive editor of The Flare.
Randi Vinson, photographer, is a sophomore photography major from Henderson.
editor, is a sophomore photography major from Van. She is also editor of The Ranger Yearbook.
Hayley Young, photographer, is a sophomore photography major from Kilgore. 39
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Published on Jun 4, 2012