We met a day late, due to the Memorial Day Weekend. We both attended the fine program put on by the Vets’ Museum which was held at the Limestone County Event Center, complete with an address by Lt. General David Mann, a 21 gun salute, and the playing of Taps. “It was the biggest crowd we have ever had,” he said, and we were both glad we were there. The flags of the US and the State of Alabama had been appropriately flown at half-staff at City Hall, as well as throughout our area, and the flags displayed along Hwy 31 made us both proud of our town for making Memorial Day about more than kicking off the summer cook-out and vacation season.
He told me about the thrill he personally felt regarding various accomplishments by local students, from the awarding of a $180,000 scholarship to the Naval Academy to a graduating senior from Athens High School, to a 9th grader successfully negotiating with DEKKO to get the full $67,000 requested in a grant proposal she had helped craft. DEKKO had counter offered with $20,000, and as a result of all she had learned as a budding entrepreneur, she had the full requested amount in five minutes!
He told me about a move to get more teachers certified to teach AP (Advance Placement) classes, because we have more public high school students who qualify for college level work in a number of subjects than we have teachers to teach them. Mayor Ronnie also mentioned that on July 23rd, there will be a Senior Fun Day held at the Senior Center. There will be a “day at the beach” theme, with skits, karaoke, therapy dogs, and food. He was especially glad that the event would be local, rather than have to send our celebrating seniors elsewhere.
He moved on to other things that had particularly inspired him over the weekend, and what stood out the most was a sermon preached on Sunday morning re: “Distractions.” He essentially preached it again to me, and as they say, “we had church.” The topic was the many forms of distraction that rob us of our purpose on this earth. The most obvious are all the opportunities we have to get distracted through tweeting, Facebooking, emailing, texting, binge watching, phone calls, and procrastinating ad nauseam, but he told me that realizing that fear can be a distraction was something that really got his attention.
“I’m not talking about ‘ISIS’ kind of fear; that’s legitimate,” he said, “I am talking about the distracting, internal fear that shuts down your dreams. For a recent high school graduate, if you are not dreaming big enough to be a bit nervous, you’re not dreaming big enough.” I thought to myself, “I graduated from high school 45 years ago, and I still allow myself to get distracted and not dream big enough. I need to pay attention, here.”
He went on. “There is a fear to fight through until you reach your goal, and fear that is clean. Clean fear will make you choose the right people to be around, who share your dreams and values with so you don’t get pulled down and pulled away.” He added, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help; that’s a distracting fear, and one of the ways to fight fear is to give to others. It gets your focus off yourself.”
We could have stayed all day, but he finished his sermon with “Don’t be ‘feared’ into not dreaming, and not holding to your faith.” We then prayed, and it was time once again for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner