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An August to Forget -2003

Story ID:4204
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Local History
Location:Akron Ohio USA
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Ohio is known for many things - most of them good. Thomas Edison was born here.
So was Orville Wright (Wilbur was born in Indiana), Neil Armstrong, and John Glenn.
We have our share of movie star legends calling Ohio their birthplace: Clark Gable,
Doris Day, and Tyrone Power among them. We have been called the state of Presidents.
But then every state has its own special people, events, and accomplishments to be
proud of.

Yesterday was the anniversary of one event that we Ohioans aren't proud of. Five years
ago on August 14, 2003 our First Energy Eastlake plant shut down unexpectedly --
triggering a series of problems on its transmission lines which led to a cascade
effect causing blackouts in Ontario, Canada and much of northeastern U.S.
Though Italy's 2003 Blackout was worse, ours was the largest blackout in North
American history. Hopefully, there will never be a repeat. For anyone interested,
the internet has all the details and recommendations for avoiding another one.

Of course, it is of interest to me. One has to go through a blackout which lasts more
than a couple of hours to truly understand its implications. We have all experienced
small street blackouts and so when everything shut down at home, I went outside
checking with neighbors and stores to determine its scope. Well, I found it was larger
than just Lakewood or even Gr. Cleveland. Someone sitting on the apartment steps
near me had a battery radio and clued me in that parts of Canada and even New York
City were experiencing it as well.

It was really a surreal experience. Everything seemed eerily quiet. At home - no TV,
radio, or telephone. Of course no lights or refrigeration. Outside -no traffic lights,
no lights in the bars and stores, and in the evening I passed St. Cyril's open
doors seeing them celebrating the vigil of the Blessed Virgin's Assumption by candlelight.
Shortly I would find out that my scheduled liturgy at St.Gregory's Byzantine Church for
my sister was cancelled because of the blackout. However, I loved seeing a couple of
parishioners in front of our church holding small bouquets of flowers.

It is believed that St. Thomas was very far away evangelizing when word came to
him that Mary was dying. Arriving too late, he asked the gathered apostles to open
her tomb so that he could look once more on her lovely face. Of course when they
opened the tomb, they found it empty with only the aroma of fragrant flowers perfuming
the air. So now in some Byzantine Catholic churches parishioners bring flowers to
church in remembrance on the feast of the Assumption.

And this feast is special to me as well, because it was the day I chose to retire from
the City of Cleveland in 1996. I think anyone who has retired will always remember the
last day of their employment and how much more meaningful it is if also connected
to some special remembrance- mine the Assumption of Mary --NOT the Blackout of