Patti and Norm Knuth, like most Americans, were very concerned about the declining political climate. They dreaded the apparent inevitable war, but wanted the troops being sent overseas to know that they were appreciated and their country supported them.
The Knuths wanted to do something but didn't know what to do. After brainstorming they came up with the idea of the yellow ribbon which is a sign of hope and support.
Patti and Norm, who manage the Lawson-Slack Funeral Home, started giving out yellow ribbon lapel pins at the funeral home Monday.
Once the word was out, the response was immediate and unbelievable.
"People pick up their pins and tell stories about a family member," said Patti. "It's heart wrenching. I didn't realize how many in Clay County got called up or are already there. It's overwhelming."
Norm feels this gives the community a chance to unite, especially now, since the war has started.
"It seems almost everyone has been affected," Norm said. "When the guard members are called to go, their lives and the lives of their families are uprooted. And they also serve who carry on at home.
"Employers have to find replacements for called up soldiers. Co-workers fill in. And there are so many going who touch someone's lives, kids, grandkids, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, friends. Everyone's affected. It's phenomenal.
"All the ribbon says is, I support the troops, their families and our country," Norm said. "Our goal is to provide one to everybody in the Wabash Valley. If you want one for yourself, for friends, relatives or co-workers you can pick them up here at the funeral home at 354 E. National Ave. in Brazil."
"We're from Fort Wayne," Patti interjected. "In a larger town you don't see the community coming together as a whole and supporting one another like you do in a small town like Brazil is doing."
The Knuths also said their Web site is available to anybody who wants to leave a word of encouragement to the troops in general. It can be done from their home computer. Log on to www.Lawson-Slack.com. Double click on the yellow ribbon.
Local residents, JoAnn Wilkerson and Claudia Hayes went to the funeral home Wednesday to get their yellow ribbons. JoAnn has one son, Jesse Sutherlin, who got out of the Navy just 11 days before the World Trade Center was hit. He doesn't know if he'll be called back up.
Another son, Ron Sutherlin, is in the Terre Haute National Guard. He's not been called up yet but anticipates it. JoAnn's boyfriend, Bruce Clawson, just retired from the Guard.
"I've got all kinds of family involved in the military," she said. "I want a yellow ribbon to wear to support our country."