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Homer Hirt

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Legislative delegation meets, listens, explains

The crowd overflowed the Jackson County Commission Chambers on Monday to hear, make statements, and to question the Jackson County legislative delegation.  The meeting, scheduled for 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM, began a bit late, but under the gavel of State Representative Brad Drake it proceeded in an orderly fashion.

The agenda began with Interim President of Chipola College Sarah Clemmons stating the case for support of that college’s baccalaureate degree program.  “We give students in our area an opportunity for several baccalaureate degrees, we do it efficiently, and we do it at less cost than major universities,” she explained.  

Next came Jim Dean, Marianna’s City Manager, who appealed for consideration for funds for Marianna’s proposed City Hall complex.  “We have raised thirty five percent of our needs.  We ask for consideration by the state in the upcoming budget to provide us the balance,” Dean said.

Brett Cyphers, Executive Director of Northwest Florida Water Management District, expressed his thanks for support of the District’s efforts, efforts that are vital to the future of the state in general and of the northwestern sector in particular.

County School Board member Stacey Goodson explained the status of the proposed K-8 school, planned for donated land off Caverns Road, “The school will replace buildings that are aged, are in bad traffic areas, and that will require, in the close future, extensive repairs.  We can show that the new construction will be safer for students and will provide cost effectiveness to the state and the county.” Newly elected Superintendent Larry Moore echoed the presentation.

Education official Shirl Williams spoke briefly of proposed changes to student assessments, and urged thoughtful review of any legislative efforts.

Attorney Nevin Zimmerman was called to the stand to review the status of the proposed incorporation of the Compass Lake in the Hills area. Three other citizens of that area spoke briefly, either pro or con.  Representative Drake then asked for any comments from the floor that did not pertain directly to the Compass Lake subject. 

At that time, Drake opened the discussion to those present who wished to speak, pro or con about Compass  When a couple of “boos” sounded from the audience after one presentation he cautioned attendees and suggested strongly that everyone respect the right to be heard.  

Drake then announced that it would be impossible for this year’s legislature to consider any legal change for Compass Lake or Compass Lake in the Hills.  “At least three state governmental departments must review any such proposed action before the Legislature can consider it.  The matter cannot meet this schedule for this year,” he said.

As the last act of the day, Representative Brad Drake and State Senator George Gainer tossed a coin to see who would be the recognized Jackson County 2017 Delegation Chair.  Drake, a person with close family ties to Jackson County, won the toss, and has officially assumed the mantle.  It should be noted that the coin in use was borrowed from Mrs. Phyllis Daniels, who had listened intently and silently throughout the proceedings, but thus contributed in a large way to the future of her county! It should also be noted that Mrs. Daniels had her quarter returned to her.

(The Publisher and the Staff of the Jackson County TIMES commends Representative Drake and Senator Gainer for holding this meeting, and commends those citizens that participated.)

American Legion Post 241 - East Jackson’s Patriotic Conscience

American Legion Post 241 in Sneads has been in existence for decades.  The building sits on Legion Road, the Post’s heart is in the members, living and deceased, who have served as the patriotic conscience of East Jackson County.

On  national holidays American flags are placed along Highway90, usually by former commander Dillon Kilpatrick, who transports them in his restored World War II Jeep. 

Flag ceremonies for special days  are led by the present commander Gene Lanier. Wreaths are laid at monuments and markers.

But of all services rendered by Post 241, the best known is the Honor Guard, a final service rendered to deceased veterans of the area.  It may be a memorial, or it may be performed at the actual burial.

The graveside ceremony is simple.

After the priest or pastor has committed the remains to the earth, he nods to the uniformed American Legion leader, who steps forward, cautions that that there will be the sound of gunfire as part of the ceremony, and then begins:

“Another patriot has been called to that high command.  He has been called to report to the commander of us all.  This moment is sacred with the presence of the one who has gone before.  We come to honor this veteran who offered his life in the service of his country.  Proudly we remember his service in time of war.

Because of him our nation is free.  Because of him our world is blessed.

We know that these mere words can offer little comfort in this time of sorrow, but we sincerely hope that you can find ease in knowing that he is at rest and in eternal peace.”

A prayer is offered, and then the leader, with the assistance of another Legionnaire, carefully folds the American flag that has been draped upon the coffin.  The leader, kneeling before the next-of-kin, presents it, saying, “This Flag is presented to you by a grateful nation.” He salutes, and reminds all that God, with infinite wisdom and mercy, will say one day, “well done, good and faithful servant”.

Then the bugler gives orders to the riflemen to present arms, then port arms, and finally, calls them into firing order.  Three volleys are fired, one after the other, then the rifles are returned to present arms and the bugler sounds Taps. 

The service is over. 

It is done without recompense; it is done because a veteran of the Armed Services deserves no less and the American Legion Post 241 of Sneads, years ago, saw a need and has filled it, time after time, for decades.

Here are the men who serve on this Honor Guard:

Jerry Alexander, United States Air Force,1958-1961; served during the Vietnam War.

Harold Beauchamp, United States Air Force, 1964-1968; served during the Vietnam War.

Bobby Edwards, United States Army, 1960-1968; served during the Vietnam War.

Guy Edwards, United States Air Force, 1957-1995; served during the Persian Gulf War.

Homer Hirt, United States Navy, 1951-1973; served during the Korean War.

Dillon Kilpatrick, United States Army, 1950-1952; served during the Korean War.

Gene Lanier, United States Air Force, 1964-1968; served during the Vietnam War.

David Pippin, United States Air Force, 1958-1962; served during the Korean War.

Clark Riddle, United States Air Force, 1962-1966; served during the Vietnam War.

Milton Schouest, United States Air Force, 1966-1970; served during the Vietnam War.

Glen Edwards, United States Army, 1952-1954; served during the Korean War.

Lowell Centers, United States Army (Airborne), 1951-1953; served during the Korean War.

They are getting old, and the strength that once served them in their youth is ebbing.  The Garand rifle, which weighs nine pounds, often seems like twice that.  The hour, and often two hours, when they assemble at the cemetery awaiting the church service, seems to last and last.  

But the Legionnaires of American Legion Post 241 give this final honor to their comrades, an honor that is repeated fifty to sixty times a year, in fair weather and foul, whenever called.

It is their duty.

Sherry Brown leaves a legacy of service

Last week in the Jackson County Commissioners’ Meeting Room Sherry Brown, long-time tax collector, said good bye to her friends in a quiet reception, complete with finger foods, punch, and plenty of opportunities for her to remember and to talk, one-on-one.

Brown, a forty-year veteran of the tax collector’s office, related her pride in providing services to county citizens, services that often went beyond that strictly required by law.  “We have seen to it that the office is also a convenience to people, a place that they can come to and expect assistance in personal needs, like hunting and fishing licenses and permits required by state agencies, a one-stop office that saves them a few miles and perhaps some valuable time,” she  related.  “I am glad that we have moved in that direction during my time”.

The TIMES Publisher, Editor and Staff gives to Sherry A. Brown, Tax Collector, a hearty “Well Done” for operating an exemplary constitutional office for the people of Jackson County.

In Flanders Field

In Flanders Field the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row, that mark our places, and in the sky.

 

The larks still bravely, singing, fly, scarce heard amidst the guns below.

 

All of America’s war dead are not buried at Arlington nor in other national cemeteries here at home. 

There are twenty five cemeteries and sites dedicated to our soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen in other places, other countries. Most are burial grounds, but there are memorials that list 94,000 missing in action, including those lost at sea.

Some are from The Great War or, as we know it today, World War I.  Our men, both Army and Marines, went to Europe under the leadership of General John J. “Blackjack” Pershing.  The Allies wanted to assimilate our troops, but Pershing demanded and got a sector and soon the war was ended. But there were bodies left behind, in places like Aisne-Marne, Belleau Wood, Chateau-Thierry and Flanders Field.

 

We are the Dead; short days ago we lived, felt dawn,

 

World War II was most certainly an all-encompassing war.  The combat spanned all continents except Antarctica, all oceans around the globe.  Fighting was fierce, and for the first time there were heavy losses from the air. It  extended into the islands of the Pacific, on the lands of Asia, to the frozen wastelands, and waters of the Atlantic.  Our losses were heavy, but more cemeteries, more monuments, were dedicated and Americans were interred in the soil of other countries.  Today there are tombstones in places like Ardennes and Brittany, Manila, and Margraten, and engraved on memorials alongside the shores of the oceans.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe;

 

To you from failing hands we throw the torch,

 

Be yours to hold it high.

 

Soon the wars moved into other lands, just as foreign, just as unforgiving: the Korean peninsula, the jungles, and mountains of Vietnam, the deserts of the East, and more places of burial for Americans. Now we were bringing home our dead, except for those Missing in Action.

 

But if you break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep….

 

(Note:  The TIMES will publish next month, in Profiles in Courage, a story that will bring the writings on this page close to home, here in Jackson County). 

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