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Cody Perkins and Chris Johnson.

join the discussion: What are your reactions and thoughts after viewing Country Boys?  What most struck you about the struggles of Chris Johnson and Cody Perkins --  two boys  coming of age in eastern Kentucky's Appalachian hills?

Dear FRONTLINE,

i have watched so many wonderful programs on pbs,but country boys is at the top of the list.

my heart went out to both Chris&Cody,but especially Chris,I could relate to so much of his story,because I to experienced so much of the same things he did. It doesn't matter how poor you are if you have love and support for your dreams you can make things happen,without it ,it is next to impossible,but it can be done,it just takes lots of sacrifices and determination. It was obvious there was no show of affection or praise for him,this can turn you into a very distant person.

I just wanted to say that I could relate to so much of his story,and I hope and pray that he will be able to overcome ,and do something with his life,he desirves it.

Jeanie Walker
Buchanan, Va.

Dear FRONTLINE,

This is one of those films that you want everyone to watch, no matter what their background, age or interests. I live in the fast pace city and culture of Chicago, however, came from a smaller town in Michigan. This film reminds me of my own triumphs and failures as a teenager and also now as an adult.

Thanks for putting this together to share with the world, I'm sure this documentary has changed or at least made every viewer self reflect upon themselves. Good luck to Chris and Cody as it's a hard world out there and 'we know where you are coming from'!

Kevin Buckstiegel
Chicago, IL

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you D. Sutherland. I am 66 years old and grew up in McDowell Cty, WV. My Dad was killed in a "mine bump" when I was 15 years old. His Father before him was killed in the mines in Matewan, WV. One of the letters stated, "he was born into hopelessness not poverty!" That is such a profound truth.

Another writer believed the area shld be abandoned...God has not abandoned us...so we continue.

Jeri Whitely
Bristol, Virginia

Dear FRONTLINE,

The reason I chose to include myself in this discussion is because of how much Cody's story touched me. His plight as a Christian who is into heavy metal and dresses in black with long hair - it's like looking in a mirror for me. I was especially inspired by his comments in the interview about religion and how Christ was about love and not condemnation for one's differences from your average, finger-pointing Christian. He's obviously very insightful and I'm so glad for him that he's been able to use his uniqueness as a way to spread God's word where most Christians fear to tred. Thank you, Cody, and may you and Jessica find lifelong happiness together.

I have the highest hopes for both of these boys. I grew up low-income here in the mid-Michigan area and if it was as hard as it was here, I can't even imagine what it would be like in a region with less opportunities for families to remain stable and for kids to grow up to be successful.

Lacey Tinglan
Saginaw, MI

Dear FRONTLINE,

i am a 21 year old girl living in miami fl. i flipped to country boys late at night, and couldn't change it. pbs realy needs commercials. i didn't even want to get up to go to the bathroom

. i realy enjoyed the show, i live in the city but am from the country side, and it kind of brought me back home.theres something about these boys that draw you to them.i wish them both the most of luck, you can do anything in the name of the lord, chris.

lindsy
miami , florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a mother of 2 boys I found it difficult to watch Chris and his parental struggles. Having relatives in rural Missouri, I also found that this story was so common of those in these types of areas. I loved it and couldn't take my eyes off and couldn't make my tears stop flowing.

I would like to say about Chris, that he has a beautiful and soothing voice. I found that listening to him speak was so pleasing. It would be wonderful if he could use his voice to get him into a new life. I would like to say about Cody, he is very smart young man. If he were my child I would be bursting with pride.

Thank you for bringing this into my house and my heart. May god bless each of these boys and the many others in these conditions.

Margaret Henning
St.Louis, Missouri

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was able to relate so much to Chris and Cody on so many levels. What surprised me is how much I have in common with these boys. We are all the same. Religon, Alcohol & drugs, relationships, money, and education. These are the primary influences on all of our lives. Every tragedy in this series was a direct effect of one thing alcohol and drug abuse. Nothing else. Sound familiar? No matter who you are or where you come from we are all members of the same club!

Ricci Dustin
Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear FRONTLINE,

There were so many riveting moments in this documentary that touched my heart.

But there was one particular moment that really stood out in my mind. I almost cried when I heard Chris' best friend Jay telling Chris that they can help each other. Chris can teach Jay how to drive and Jay can teach Chris how to get food stamps. At that moment, I truly felt Jay was the dearest friend one could ever have. He is such a genuine and heartfelt person. What he was offering from the bottom of his heart was one skill he knows about how to survive in the mountain.

I don't want to and I can't judge the welfare system there. I just wish to point out that while most of our attention is on Chris and Cody, please do not forget the little characters like Jay. They are also beautiful in their own way.

Lillian Chao
Houston, TX

Dear FRONTLINE,

I, too, was enthralled by the stories of Chris and Cody; they remind me of my cousins from the Ohio River environs who I never really got to know; (I, too, was born in Kentucky, but escaped the "impoverished" social environment as a consequence of a God and Country-given blessing to my father and his progeny: the GI Bill.)

I feel especially compelled to express appreciation for this web site, and, specifically, for the exposition about "Why Poverty Persists In This Region." Although I was aware of several of the historical, (political/economic,) underpinnings about much of what has happened after Kentucky gained statehood, it is, to me, estounding and imperative for everyone(legislators, parents, students, teachers and even outsiders) to acknowledge that tragic legacy. And what a tragedy: what was formerly the Pre-Revolutionary War/ Shawnee Indian's sacred hunting ground, with its irreplaceable natural resources and national treasures, has become, in some places, similar to landscape on the moon.

And to address the issue of educating the public as to the most comprehensive and relevant areas of instruction, including the teaching of history, I must also communicate my concern about Cody's Science Teacher offering her indoctrination as oppossed to best teaching practices for providing information to those impressionable and trusting minds of his age group, so that they can come to their own conclusions about how the whole world "works" and by which to make good and constructive decisions about how they hope to live out their lives in a just, moral and manageable way.

To not over-reiterate what many other viewers have so poignantly and eloquently stated as to the dignity and tenacity of those two beautiful young men, the only other thing I would like say to them, if I could, is "May the Lord bless you and keep you. . ." and Chris, I wish you could stop smoking and Cody, please make sure you get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Knowing about you both has made it "well with my soul."

Penny Keiter
Rockville, , Virginia

Dear FRONTLINE,

This is a film I will always remember. ..I grew up in coal mining country in Pennsylvania and know how proud these people can be, sometimes to their own detriment. That does not excuse the failure of federal and state governments.

Yes, I am familiar with the VISTA experience in the late 60's, have read "Cloud by Day" and other books. Could go on and on. Most important: Thank you for this very, very good film. Needs to be seen by every American.

bonnie brown

Dear FRONTLINE,

The scene with the pig under the trailer was NOT "hilarious," as noted in an earlier message. To observe any living creature (including this pig) in terror and distress is NOT amusing. The compassion and support advocated for Chris by many posters must be extended to all of the sentient beings in the region. Chris' internal anguish cannot be healed by mistreating the creatures who are more vulnerable and helpless than he is.

Cynthia Round
Jacksonville, Florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

I started watching the program on the second day. I was engrossed in the show. It reminded me a lot of where I grew up. I grew up in rural Arkansas and seeing there story reminds me of a lot of the people that I went to school with.

I was glad to see a program that touched on this subject. I don't think that many people realize that there are a lot of people that live like this and have these hardships. To overcome these hardships is something that is almost impossible to do. I was one of a few that got out. I know of only a handfull of people that have left.

I pass my prayers and my encouragement on to Cody and Chris. I hope that they are able to accomplish everything that they are wanting to accomplish comes true.

Jennifer P

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a 51 year old single male with no children, that has always lived a somewhat privileged suburban midwest existence. My television viewing is typically sports.

While flipping through the channels Monday night, I stopped flipping precisely at 9pm. For six hours over the next three nights, I experienced the most moving program I believe I've ever seen. It's difficult to explain how I couldn't turn away from it, maybe because is was so genuine and real, unlike most drivel on TV.

I have already ordered the DVD and am excited about sharing this real-life classic with everybody that is important to me.

Scot Schnoor
Lee's Summit, Missouri

Dear FRONTLINE,

Riveting! I can't recall ever watching such a powerful documentary. My heart goes out to all children such as Cody and Chris for the unimaginable hurdles they must overcome daily. I encouraged my 15-year old son to watch the program, and he too was drawn into the powerful presentation.

Thank goodness for people such as Cody's loving grandmother,and the teachers and administrators at The David School who never give up on these deserving, yet overlooked children.

Most of us are where we are today because of the encouragement of family and generosity of strangers. Conversely, I doubt many of us could withstand the challenges that these young men have endured, and yet continue on with such grace and retain an undying faith in others.

I thank Mr. Sutherland for his brilliant documentary, and Cody and Chris for sharing their incredible story, and teaching us about perserverence, loyalty, and goodwill. God bless them, and may life finally be good to these kind souls.

Sandy Irish
Sacramento, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

As tragic as the stories of Chris and Cody are, a story about girls growing up in the same environment would be even more startling. Girls in these areas experience problems that middle class girls could not even imagine.

For one, teen pregnancies are much more evident in poor rural areas than in large urban areas. That single problem has a lasting influence on these girls that follows them throughout their lives. I would strongly encourage you to develope a story along these lines. The public deserves it and more it needs it.

Peter Koch
Melbourne, FL

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posted jan. 9, 2006

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