During an early January press conference at the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce, someone commented that Utah County had felt as much of the economic effects of the Persian Gulf crisis as it was going to.
A few days later, U.S. and allied forces began their air attacks on Iraq.Since then, Utah County folks have felt the effects of the gulf crisis. And as the days now move into weeks, residents continue to join the show of support for the troops in the Middle East.
Yes, the war has come to Utah County, although perhaps in ways unpredicted by our economists.
For instance, has anyone noticed the abundance of flags flying lately?
There are flags on poles, porches and Porsches. They're in windows and on doors. They're downtown, uptown and all around town. Not even on the Fourth of July, not even on Flag Day have I seen so many flags.
And the yellow ribbons. Every pillar and post has a ribbon. One of the most notable ribbons is on the semaphore by the old courthouse on Center Street. There are yellow ribbons on fences, antennas, wreaths and even flying alongside flags.
If you want to buy a yellow ribbon for a spring wedding, forget it. The fabric stores are in short supply.
And so are the toy stores. The interest in model planes, ships and tanks has caused a run on the piggy banks. It's nearly impossible to find current military models in the stores.
Anyone who has passed the intersection of University and Center Street in Provo has probably noticed the daily ritual of Vietnam veterans and their families carrying signs encouraging you to honk in support of the troops.
This audio support has changed the entire atmosphere of the downtown area. At various times during the day, there are so many supporters that Provo sounds like downtown Manhattan.
On several occasions, drivers have gotten confused about what the honking means - are they in the way or do they need to wave at an old friend? All this support has caused a real bottleneck.
I must admit that I have even sounded my support. It was an irresistible experience.
After listening to the honking all day long through the office window, I vowed I would drive defiantly past the veterans, put my nose in the air, look straight ahead and prove to myself that I was above such nonsense.
It wasn't until I was preparing to turn left on University from Center Street that I was in direct eye contact of that blasted sign. With just a brief moment of hesitation, and a deep sense of guilt if I didn't show support for the troops, I quickly slapped the horn.
Whether or not there has been an economic effect, Utah County does share in the conflict. Flags and yellow ribbons will continue flying as a constant reminder of our men and women in the armed forces. Residents will continue to show pride in their country, not just on July 4, but daily as we look forward to peace.
And I suppose the streets of Provo will continue to sound like any other metropolis as Volkswagens, semi-trucks, buses and motorcycles air their support.
Yes, the war has come to Utah County.
(Genelle Larsen, Orem, is an employee of the Deseret News' Utah County bureau.)