Odyssey Impact: A Tennessee Town Starts To Rebuild

Odyssey Impact: A Tennessee Town Starts To Rebuild

Gatlinburg resident Jasmine Marie Marple relays a harrowing account of the fire that devastated her town, but she has a hopeful message.
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The first report of fire was on November 23 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Within a few days, a town was destroyed, 14 people were dead, and more than 175 others were injured.

Jasmine Marple, an Odyssey creator for the Knoxville, Tennessee community and resident of Gatlinburg, watched flames engulf her town as she and other town citizens begged for rain.

“The thing that we wish would go away is the images, what we’ve seen and what happened,” Marple said. “You can’t erase the images. They’ll always be there.”

Marple was at work when she first noticed that the entire sky was a blanket of smoke. She didn’t believe it was serious at first until she saw the fire spreading from the top of the mountain at her friend’s house. That’s when her out-of-town family and friends started calling her, and more importantly, she remembered her dad’s house was in the way of the firestorm.

“I didn’t think it was going to reach the extremes that it did,” Marple said. “That’s the scariest part, you don’t know what’s in store when it comes to fires.”

She and her brother raced to their dad’s house to ensure his safety. Trees were snapping and falling onto houses nearby, including her dad’s. “The tree had fallen at the beginning of his driveway on the mountain and they couldn't get out,” Marple said. “The tree was too big for him to move on his own, so there was no way of removing it quickly.” They all evacuated to safety, and the fire did not reach her dad’s home.

The only other thing Marple had the power to do was to write about her experience and reveal its devastation to her beloved hometown.

“I initially wanted to write a poem about the smoke and the fires, and when it ended up escalating, I just put my thoughts together and submitted it,” Marple said.

Her post quickly gained traction within just a few days, and gained over 6,800 shares after she submitted her unsettling article:

I want to be superwoman, I want to save and help them all. For many days The Book of Revelations has crossed my mind. All of these destructive disasters are incredibly close, leaving behind hurt and mourning. My anxiety is high, I feel like I can't breathe. Everything is happening so fast--damn it, where is the rain?

Marple received dozens of comments from people even outside the town thanking her for sharing the story. The positive feedback was overwhelming.

“I became very emotional because I was grateful that I could reach out to others,” Marple said. “For them to know what was going on was even more empowering.”

Her town is now rebuilding, and Marple plans to write another post detailing the aftermath. Mostly, she says, the town needs money and other resources to help them heal.

“A lot of that money is going toward essentials; there are still people in shelters. Our goal now is to get people into homes so they are back to normalcy. That’s the thing that people overlook,” Marple said.

In a recent Facebook update, Marple thanked all the EMTs, firefighters, police officers and volunteers that have helped keep the people of Gatlinburg safe, and called upon other Gatlinburg citizens to do the same:

Lastly, I want each and every person to know that they are not alone. My sorrow for each and every person that lost everything is unexplainable. My heart aches for you. We, as a community, will come together and help you back to your feet. The images, terror, and uncertainty has been felt as whole. Your families are in our thoughts and prayers. I pray that the nightmares go away and the constant images in your mind dissipates. I pray that you find peace and comfort, and that you never lose hope. We will stand again, together.

“This journey has been extremely hard and emotional,” Marple said, “but my mission now is to fight to help people get back to normal. We can get through this, and we will.”
Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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Stop Yelling At Me For Being Conservative

What you shouldn't say to millennial Republicans.
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Society today has a funny way of making Republicans seem like the scum of the Earth. The funniest thing is that it's actually not funny at all — it's an ignorant, rude way to treat people. See, America these days seems to be all about treating everyone fairly. That is, until differing opinions come about. How dare we Republicans view economics and politics differently? How dare we have our own opinions? How dare we identify as Conservative people, even as young adults?

So, without further ado, here are some things that I, a millennial Republican, am beyond tired of hearing.


"You're just a college girl, what do you know about politics?"

Yeah, I'm a basic white girl. I wear Converse to class and my sorority's letters are on my rear windshield. Guess what, though — I do my research. I've been following the presidential campaigns for months now. I've watched the debates, read the articles, visited the websites and studied the polls. I may be in a sorority and I may wear Converse, but I know what I'm talking about when it comes to this stuff. So, if you ask for my opinion, be prepared to hear a well-thought-out, educated answer.

"You only believe what your parents raised you to believe."

No, actually. My parents raised me to understand the value of hard work. They made me get a job when I was 16 years old so I could learn how to budget, save and provide for myself. My parents did not teach me to rely on other people to get what I want. My parents did not teach me to accept handouts. Therefore, I believe that success comes from hard work and dedication. I believe that each individual is responsible for his or her own success (along with his or her own property and obligations), hence why I identify as a Conservative.

"You're voting for him?!"

Yeah! I am! Funny, I thought we were all entitled to our own opinion. It turns out this is my opinion, and [insert candidate] has my vote. Cool how that works, huh?

"The GOP candidates this time around are horrible."

It doesn't take an idiot to see that none of the Republican candidates are the ideal presidential candidate. It also doesn't take an idiot to see that the same thing can be said of the Democratic candidates. Here's the reality: There never has been a perfect president, there never has been a perfect presidential candidate, there is no perfect president, there is no perfect presidential candidate, there never will be a perfect president and there never will be a perfect presidential candidate.

"You're so selfish."

Define selfish. I want my money to be my money and I want my rights to be my rights; I was unaware that that labels me as "selfish." I am confident that I can survive without the government's help.

"But don't you care about the old people/the kids/the environment/the homeless people/etc?"

Yes, I do. What I don't like is that my hard-earned money gets taken from me and used for other things. I'm not against helping out, don't get me wrong. I would love to donate to charities to help children and homeless people and the planet, that is if I had enough money to do so. Sadly, that money gets taken from me through taxes (Which could be considered forced donation, if you ask me. How is that fair?).

"But what about the minorities? You're just racist."

No, I'm not racist and yes, I do care about the minorities. I believe diversity is one of America's greatest qualities. What bothers me, though, is that society changes the meaning of "fair" when it comes to minorities. Yeah, it would be fair for us to all be able to pay our own medical bills and whatnot. Do you know what else would be fair? For even the members of minorities to get jobs and earn their way to success just like I'm trying to do. If illegal immigrants want to come to America, then they can go through the citizenship process, get a job and contribute to society. If they want to be treated equally, they need to start viewing themselves and treating themselves as working American citizens who pay the same taxes, get the same jobs and fight the same daily battles that we fight.

"You're hateful and/or heartless."

Nah. What I am is honest, self-sufficient and confident that other people can be honest and self-sufficient.

"You're ignorant."

Again, no, I'm not. As I've said several other times throughout this article, I know what I'm talking about and I can justify what I'm talking about. If anything, you're ignorant for accusing me of such things.

"You're crazy if you'd vote Trump over Sanders or Clinton if he's the chosen GOP candidate."

Please enlighten me on how this makes me "crazy." In this upcoming election, I will be voting for the candidate chosen by my political affiliation. The Republican Party's only strong opposing candidates include a self-proclaimed Socialist and a woman under FBI investigation. What I would consider "crazy" is if I voted for Sanders or Clinton over Donald Trump, just because Trump has offended some people before. (And no, this is not me saying I'm a loud and proud Trump supporter. In fact, Cruz has my vote either until he's elected into office or until Trump is chosen as the GOP candidate.)

Side note: I've heard the people, who hate Trump for being mean, say meaner things than that man ever has. A very wise man (Jesus, in John 8:7) once said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."


What you should be saying to me is "Thank you," because I'm voting for freedom. I'm voting for civil liberties. I'm voting for constitutional rights. I'm voting for the will to succeed. I'm voting for the reward for hard work. I'm voting for the things that will actually help America keep prospering.

So, here's what I'll say to you: You're welcome.

Cover Image Credit: Kristi Russell

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The Crimes And Misdemeanors Of A Sitting President

Whether you agree with Nancy Pelosi, regarding impeachment or not, the question each American should ask is: Can this nation survive any more division?

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Whether you agree with Nancy Pelosi, regarding impeachment or not, the question each American should ask is; can this nation survive any more division? Is Nancy correct in her comment, "He's just not worth it?" Impeachment should not be used as a political tool to remove an unwanted government official out of office. Its purpose is to bring charges against a government official and once the official is impeached then the legislative body can impose judgment which could ultimately remove the official from office.

Moreover, in the past, this country has impeached two sitting presidents and neither ended with his removal. According to www.merriam-webster.com, the definition of impeaching is "(a) to charge with a crime or misdemeanor, specifically: to charge a public official before a competent tribunal with misconduct in office. (b) to remove from office especially for misconduct, and (c) to bring an accusation against."

So how many cases of impeachment has the United States experienced with sitting presidents? According to www.History.com, eight U.S. presidents have faced impeachment, but with very different results. John Tyler was the first president to face impeachment proceedings in 1843. Representative John Botts of Virginia filed claimed Tyler conduct of the U.S. Treasury although the House of Representatives voted Botts' claim down.

Andrew Johnson was the second sitting president to have impeachment proceedings filed against him. In 1868 President Johnson dismissed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and according to Congress, the president violated the Tenure of Office Act. Even though Johnson was impeached the Senate would not confirm his removal from office and he finished his term.

With the exception of Grover Cleveland, the twentieth century gave way for many calls for impeachment beginning with Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and ending with George H.W. Bush. None of these presidents were subjected to the process as the claims never had the votes to call for a hearing on the committees.

There were three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon, however, he resigned in 1974 before any of the proceedings could take place. In 1998 Bill Clinton was impeached over allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice relating to the Monica Lewinsky case. In Clinton's case, the Senate acquitted, and he finished his term in office just like Andrew Johnson.

President Trump is under scrutiny for some of the very reason's other presidents have had impeachment proceedings. He has proven to most American's that he is a danger to our democracy. Trump has snubbed his nose at the foreign emolument clause, creating an open way for foreign powers to pressure our president to stray from his constitutional obligation to the United States. The firing of the FBI Director James Comey and fulling admitting on national television to Lester Holt that he did because of "this Russia thing." This is "obstruction of justice," and other presidents have been charged with this article of impeachment. However, Nixon resigned, and Clinton was acquitted.

So why is he not worth it? First the truth, he won the election. Unless there is proven evidence that he colluded with the Russians to rig the 2016 presidential election reversing this fact will drive this new faction of voters back to the polls to elect another under-qualified candidate. In addition, the Republican Party will use the impeachment as a platform in the upcoming election. Citing the Democrats stole the White House from them.

Second, is the nation ready for even one year of Mike Pence as president? His record as Governor of Indiana is the only evidence needed. He banned Syrian refugees, he reinstated mandatory minimum sentences and authored a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. He doesn't take to Twitter, has the political knowledge, and is waiting his turn to strike like an incurable virus.

Third and even more disturbing is the Republican Party and their efforts to gloss over his crimes and misdemeanors and cite the economy, and jobs. Many won't vote against Trump because of his base; cannot afford to have to explain their decisions to his base voters in 2020. Most fear they will have to go through a primary. Even though if they removed Trump and put Pence in his place they could have during their two-year reign and most American's civil liberties would be a thing of the past.

The voters gave their voice in 2018 and Congress is working, unlike the previous Congress. They have a lot of work to do and spinning their wheels debating the crimes and misdemeanors of the sitting president is counter-productive. History will repeat itself and he will be acquitted.

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