TURES COLUMN: Memorable men for a memorable day for boys

Published 10:30 am Thursday, August 5, 2021

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Just a few minutes ago, I learned about Troup County Commissioner Richard English passing away. He and his fellow commissioners, and others in the community, taught some important lessons to my son and others, on a memorable day in LaGrange. Georgia.

It’s not every hot summer morning that my son dresses up in his full Scout uniform. But that’s because this wasn’t going to be like every day. He and several fellow Scouts, some of whom were also sons of professors at LaGrange College, went downtown to their first attended meeting of the Troup County Commissioners, for their Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge.

The kids learned that politics wasn’t always the way it is on MSNBC, CNN or Fox News where pundits yell at each other, or C-SPAN where some representatives give speeches to empty chambers. They learned that a lot of politics is local, it’s about people, and there can be more agreement than one might think.

Afterwards, Commissioner English came over to talk with us. These are people from the community, I explained, seeing Patrick Crews at church or Lewis Davis at a racial trustbuilding exercise, not just in government. And they made a point of thanking of us for attending.

That meeting also showed that national and international events are never far from those at home. Because at that meeting, we learned that the Troup County Board of Commissioners endorsed a request from the Georgia Department of Transportation for an intersection close to our home, where West Point Road meets Pegasus Parkway, to be named for our neighbor, U.S. Army Sergeant Corey Emmett Spates, who gave his life serving his country, in Iraq.

My son wasn’t even a year old when I drove him in to day care, and saw the neighbor’s house with the flag flying at half-staff, and cars parked all around the home. Corey was always good for a wave and a hello and how’s it going for me as I ran through the neighborhood. He wouldn’t be there in person to serve as an example to these young boys. But now they would know his name.

I’m sure skeptics may think I’m making too much of Sgt. Spates, Commissioner English, and State Rep Randy Nix and the GDOT representative who spoke.  But that day reminded me of a line from the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” where Senator Jefferson Smith (played by Jimmy Stewart), was a Boy Ranger leader, and wanted to inspire the kids he served.

“I want to make that come to life for every boy in this land. Yes, and all lighted up like that too! You see, you see, boys forget what their country means by just reading ‘the land of the free’ in history books. And they get to be men – they forget even more. Liberty’s too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: ‘I’m free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn’t. I can. And my children will.’ Boys ought to grow up remembering that.” From this columnist, and other Scout leaders and teachers whose boys and girls get some great lessons from our elected leaders and other leaders in our community, I say thank you. The future looks a lot brighter because of you.