White Picket Fences

As of this Memorial Day Weekend, "White Picket Fences" has become a fledgling literary journal. Still with the rough edges, but not just one man's effort any more.

Monday, May 30, 2005

As posted in "Wake up, White Ameria!"
a bulletin board on race conflict in America today

nostalgia, per Collins Main Dictionary
by: hajgora7 (44/M/Georgia, USA) 05/30/05 11:52 am
Msg: 10091 of 10091

nostalgia noun
1. a yearning for the return
of past circumstances, events, etc.
2. the evocation of this emotion,
as in a book, film, etc.
3. longing for home or family; homesickness
History: C18: New Latin
(translation of German Heimweh homesickness),
from Greek nostos a return home + -algia
Am long over-due in sharing this URL. Will tell you more as soon as possible.

_____________Bank Mural Object of Controversy

____This issue of White Picket Fences would not be complete without some mention of the controversy, or non-controversy, depending on your attitude or beliefs, or just awareness, of the mural on the side of the building facing the old site of the Glennville Bank. For those not familiar with this work of art, after the new bank was completed, a mural was painted on the wall of the building where the Georgia Power office is located. It shows a pastoral and small town background, against which stand several individuals, who are supposed to depict past presidents of the bank.

____Some individuals, represented in the African American community by a Mr. Randall Lee King, and councilman Mr. Randy King, who is also the Assistant Principal of Tattnall County High School, have objected to the representation of the one Black person in the mural painting, a Black man who is depected standing, rather dejectedly, so some imply, by a mule, in front of a field. At the last city council meeting, Mr. Randall stood in front of the council to voice the concerns of his family and friends, including his nine-year old daughter.

_____We would like to also point out the absence of Jews, Mexicans, and women, all of whom have lived in Glennville and Tattnall County. The response by the some is that the mural depicts past presidents. But did the Bank have a Black president? Who is that man? Is it Tom Shine?

____ And just who is Tom Shine? We have interviewed a couple dozen people in Glennville. Among them, only two have been able to tell anything about him. One of these two wasn't even born in the U.S., but rather in India, in Gujarat state, birthplace to Mahatma Ghandi. If folks of Glennville wish to know the truth of who was our Tom Shine, they may wish to make the story known, lest some come to confuse a man who contributed to our town's history with another.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Saturday, the family drove to Statesboro to visit the Georgia Southern Museum. They have programs of Natural and Cultural History. Now among the exhibits, there are two in particular, one fun one on bubbles, and the other, an excellent exhibit on a Geological and Paleological History of Georgia. It includes a reconstructed skeleton of a Mosasaur, another of a Georigiacetus vogtlensis, a recent skeleton of a porpoise of some sort, a Mastodon skull, and numerous other fossils.

I should be shaping up this post Sunday, on the 5th of June.
Communities all over Georgia are showing a strong interest in the BRAC Commission doings. BRACC and Senator Chambliss Get Busy

On Wednesday, May 25, Commissioner Harold W. Gehman, of the Base Realignment and Closings Commission visited the
Naval Air Station in Atlanta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens. On Wednesday, June 8, there he and other Commission members will visit the Naval Medical Center San Diego, the Naval Base in Coronado, and Fort McPherson, in Atlanta. On Friday, June 10, they will visit Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., and Fort Gillem, south of Atlanta.
Senator Chambliss, in a newsletter sent to the public last week, said he is working with Governor Sonny Purdue, state, community, and military leaders to "ensure that our bases are well prepared... (He) has sought to ensure our bases have the right missions and resources necessary to do their jobs, as well as the ability to grow and take on new missions."
Fort Stewart and other local bases is already growing as a talk of the closures and personnel cuts and realignment gets underway. The base already is due to receive about 1,000 additional troops over the next 12 to 14 months, said Col. John M. Kidd, garrison commander for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield. Stewart has access to almost unlimited suitably zoned space for housing and plenty of area for training, which makes it a logical place to send soldiers from other bases, Kidd added.
In the newsletter, Senator Chambliss includes that the Federal government paid:

$224.3 million for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynn County;
$32.9 million for phase II of a barracks complex in Fort Stewart;
$24.69 million for a command and control facility in Fort Stewart;
$9.5 million for a chapel in Fort Stewart;
$16 million for enclave fencing and parking at Kings Bay Naval Sub Base;
$16.5 million for an aviation support facility for the Savannah Army National Guard;
$21.1 million for an aircraft maintenance hangar
$17.6 million for a battalion complex at Hunter Army Air Field.

There will be a public hearing by the BRACC, in Atlanta on Thursday, June 30.

Interested citizens may learn more from the website at http://www.brac.gov/meetings.asp/

Translation: Senator Chambliss will do his best to make sure the pork is there to benefit us, those of us who are fortunate to live in and around bases and military facilities. There is no mention as to whether he will accede to BRAC assessments that a base may no longer be able to justify the federal expenditures necessary to keep it operating.

I'm no economist, but I can tell you Fort Stewart didn't need another chapel, now, when most of its fort is deployed away in Iraq or Afghanistan. Even when we were in garrison, we didn't fill the chapels we had. I'll count them tomorrow morning.

All that other expenditure, hoorah! Might as well take it now while it's there to spend. Right? At the rate we're going overseas, we'll be bankrupted by the time those men and women get back. By then, we'll need to have another draw-down. Will we really need all of these big new facilities then? We don't really need most them now, except for the Naval Base and maybe the Aviation Support.

But then, I'm just an inventory specialist in training, just an English teacher part-time. What do I know? Smile, shut up and take the cash while the government is shelling it out. Nice jobs, if you can get them.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

"White Picket Fences," the name of this blog, started out as a way to show a neighbor how to do blogging. Then, it became a "local blog," that is, one dealing in events, people, places of Tattnall, the surrounding counties, and sometimes the state of Georgia.

In this issue, I introduce a young Georgia writer, D.B. Thomas, of Glennville, Tattnall County.

Also, we will be reading a letter by Mexican writer, Marietherese Padilla Santoscoy, b. 1924 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her letter "Supporting the Pope's stances" defends the traditional Catholic position on the male priesthood, and has appeared in the Galesburg Register Mail,The Zephyr of Galesburg, Illinois, and the Yahoo Bulletin Board on Catholicism and priests.
Vigilante: by David Brandon Thomas Copyright May 2005. Printed with permission of the author. By cafegroundzero press.

_____When someone close to you dies, a part of you leaves with him or her. They leave a void that can never be filled. When I met my wife, I vowed that I would do anything in my power to hold onto her; for five years I succeeded.

September 11th, 2001 - 3:59 A.M.

____My name is Michael Hall, a married black man living in a city notorious for riots an poor race relations. I am a three-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department. My wife Carla and I were slowly finding our place in suburban society. We were fast asleep on this night in our home when a loud knock came on our door.

"Who is that at this time of the night?" Carla groaned.

"Probably some persistent Jehovah's witness," I said, rolling over. Carla groaned and got up to answer the front door.

____Realizing that Carla had left, I woke up to use the bathroom. I had a peak out the window to see a late model pearl white Lexus coupe with illustrious 20-22 inch rims and limousine tint parked on the other side of the road. The gleam of the rims glistened so brightly in the moonlight that I had to cover my eyes when staring at them.

____Abruptly, two loud gunshots rang out near the front. The horrifying sound was then accented by a loud thud on our hallway floor. Terrified, I ransacked my drawer to get my loaded police-issued handgun. My feet never seemed to touch the stairs as I blazed downstairs with my handgun cocked and loaded. A loud screech of tires echoed in the night as I reached the front.

____ I paused at the end of the stairs to see Carla lying on the floor. I ran quickly and dropped my gun on the floor, kneeling at her side.

_____"Carla! Wake up baby. Can you hear me, baby? Wake up WAKE UP!" I shouted.

_____It was too late. She was dead --and there was nothing I could do to change that. A vow which I swore to uphold five years ago was broken. It was a pain that could not be healed by lust, drink or by any words, I remembered feeling.

_____A few hours later, after the coroner took her body away, it seemed that God was trying to tell me something. His message was clear: the world does not stop for anyone's grief.

_____My wife's funeral was beautiful. Her casket was surrounded by several wreaths and flower arrangements. The church's decor consisted of white walls and clear stained glass windows. This institution was the epitome of purity and cleanliness. Considering the several inner demons that resurfaced following my wife's death I was absolutely certain that the minister would throw holy water on me. My parents and in-laws were too close for comfort. Although appreciated, I oddly felt that it would be helpful if I stayed clam and collected in this whole ordeal. At the burial site, I sat holding my mother-in-law's hand as the minister gave the last rites. His words brought me no comfort. Instead, I felt anguish towards God and the man or men responsible for Carla's death. I put on my sunglasses, which served as a futile attempt to conceal my welling eyes. As the funeral staff lowered Carla's casket in the ground, I felt my heart sink. I sat around at the gravesite standing upright looking into her grave. I looked at the rose I held in my hand. I then looked at the grave and spoke these words.

________"Carla, there is something I must do to make this right. I do not know what will happen, but it must be done. GOD said "Vengeance is mine," but I think he should make an exception just this once. Forgive me for my anger, but it cannot be helped." I dropped the rose into the grave on Carla's casket. I would make sure that this is one promise that would not be broken.

________________________________ * * *

____Three months and three weeks later, I was sitting at my desk, constantly reviewing my wife's case files. No leads, not tangible shred of evidence has surfaced following her burial. Countless times I am told that everything is being done in the precinct's power to investigate. One hundred eleven days, 9 hours, 32 minutes and 18 seconds of promises have led to nothing. Why so long, you ask? I was not allowed to enter the investigation. I lingered on that for awhile until I finally worked up the nerve to speak with Captain Hayes to express my concerns. To me, the entire meeting was like conversing with a brick wall. "Michael, I understand how you are feeling but we cannot drop everything for this investigation. It's not possible," Hayes said while he polished his badge.
_____"I understand, sir, but nearly four months have passed and not a man is in jail. Put me on my wife's investigation, along with a few others. Why can't you consider that, sir?" I asked agitatedly.

_____"By remembering that MY precinct does not revolve around THIS investigation," he answered in a condescending tone. With that, I had only one thing to say:

_____"I quit." I slammed my badge and gun on Captain Hayes' desk. Captain Hayes looked up at me with an astonished look on his face, as I exited the office.

_____Everyone near his office heard everything, given the surprised looks on their faces as well. I went to the locker room, and changed into my civilians clothes. Momentarily, I went to my desk and gathered everything that was of any value to me, including my wife's case files. My friend and colleague, Shaun Bell, approached me with some documents , but hesitated. I resumed leaving the office with possessions in hand and a vengeful motive in my thoughts.

_____At home, it became difficult for to savor the memories I had without feeling any sorrow. The pictures of us together remain upright. Her knick-knacks and porcelain figurines stayed in their respective places. I spent many nights sleeping on the couch with the television on at full blast and my handgun at the coffee table. The bed has still not been made since her death. One day, I was sleeping in the living room when the telephone rang rather rudely. Combine the loud ringing of the telephone with the Dolby Digital surround sound on "Black Hawk Down" and you as well will have the urge to curse at the top of your lungs. Still sleepy-eyed, I searched the table for the phone, combing through several beer bottles and cigarette butts. I answered the phone rather groggily saying,"Hello?" The person on the other end was my friend, Shaun bell. "Hey, Mike it's Shaun. I got something that you may want to have."

_____"Like what?" I asked as I got up from the couch.

_____"Check your fax machine."

_____I walked over to the fax machine and waited. Seconds later, documents began to feed out of the fax. A slight grin came over my face as I reviewed the documents.

_____The "documents" Shaun had sent me were various files on the tire tread results that were collected from the road adjacent to my house. The tires that were on that Lexus could not be ordered stock issue from whichever car dealership the car was purchased. Knowing that California is one of the birthplaces of car customization, I decided to check out the numerous car customization shops nearby and away from my house. I visited several shops within a few miles radius of my home. No on at those respective shops had done work on a Lexus coupe. All hope seemed to have vanished until I arrived at a A.Z.E. Car Customs at Long Beach, California, which is many miles away from my home in Los Angeles. On display at the front of the shop were several "tricked-out rides" the staff either owned or had completed. They showcased different styles of tint, rims, and audio/video equipment that the shop had to offer. I entered inside the shop to see at least four more cars that were customized in the same elaborate way as the ones outside. I began to look around some more until my eyes focused on a wall with several framed pictures of each of their completed works.
_____I looked at each one until I saw the white pearl Lexus coupe. The owner of the car stood at the front while the persons that were involved in the project stood in the background. Seconds later-- "May I help you, sir?"
_____ Startled, I tuned around to see who had spoken. A Caucasian male with an average build entered the shop."Yes, you can," I replied.

_____"Jeff, as it says so on the shirt," he answered pointing to his name embroidered on a black and blue shirt.

____"Sorry. My name is Michael Hall, I'm ...Excuse me...I was a police officer for the Los Angeles Police Department. I have a few questions for you or for whoever is in charge." I responded.

____"I'm the owner. Please, come into my office." Jeff led me to his office. I took a seat in his office, which was adorned with posters that dealt with car customization. "So, Mr. Hall, what can I do for you?" Jeff asked as he leaned back in his chair.

____"I have a question about one of your client's cars. It's a pearl white Lexus coupe with limousine tint and it probably had 20"--22" inch rims." I stated.

____"Of course. The guy who owns that car is one of our best customers. That was his second vehicle he brought to our shop. The first one we did for him was a black Cadillac Escalade with twenty-two inch rims. We had so much a/v equipment in that car it was ridiculous. Money was no object to him." Jeff said enthusiastically.

____"Do you remember the guy's name? Do you know where he lives?"

____"His name is Raymond Stiles. He lives on 223 Overbrook Drive, just a few miles away from this hop. May I ask why you want to know all this?" Jeff asked curiously.

____"He may have had something to do with my wife's murder. His car was parked outside of my house one night. Someone that was in this particular car stepped out, rung my house doorbell, and put two nine millimeter bullets in my wife's chest when she answered the door." I stated plainly.
____Jeff stood back slightly surprised. "I'm sorry to hear that."
____"Yeah, me too." I answered back. I exited the shop and drove onto 223 Overbrook Drive.

____While driving to my destination, I could not fully express the emotions that ran through my mind. At first, I felt anxiety, due to the gravity of the situation at hand. I was one step closer in finding the much-needed answers in the investigation. The second emotion was anger. "What would I do if I knew for sure that this is the man who killed my wife?" I asked myself that question countless times. Finally, I reached 223 Overbrook Drive.
____The details on Stiles' financial capabilities that Jeff at A.Z.E. Car Customs provided did not coincide with the Raymond Stiles' home. The house was not what I was quite expecting. Instead of a large, high profile, 20 million dollar estate, the home at 223 Overbrook Drive was a two story white wood house with black window sills, a luscious and vibrant garden which consisted of several exotic flowers and the two cars that Jeff described. Although the Lexus coupe and the Cadillac Escalade are mainstays in Long Beach, California, the customization and the detail put into each vehicle make them stand out from the rest. I could tell by just looking at each car that the amount of equipment and accessories put into them would pay the salaries of two high school teachers. I approached the front door and began to ring the doorbell.
____Oddly enough, I began to visualize what had happened on that eventful night. A young gorgeous and well-dressed woman answered the door. "May I help you?" she asked.
____"Yes, I'm Michael Stiles, Los Angeles Police Department. I was wondering if a Raymond Stiles was at home?" I asked.
____"He was, but he has left." She pulled out her insurance information that she carried in her Gucci purse, and handed it to me. Sure enough, she was right.
____"Do you know where he went? Marcia, it is very important that I speak with him." I handed back her insurance card.
____"He went to meet some guy that he does business with. It's at a newly renovated office building about 25 miles from here," Marcia responded. "Thank you. I'm sorry to trouble you, miss." I said as I left the house. Marcia didn't seem to be to bright. She hadn't asked to see my badge.

_____I stopped at a gas station approximately five miles away from the office building that Marie said Stiles would be seen at. However, I began to act on a hunch, and called the precinct on my cell phone. Luckily, Shaun picked up the phone. "Los Angeles Police Department, Officer bell speaking." Shaun answered."Shaun, I need a favor. Can you do a search for a Raymond Stiles? S-T-I-L-E-S. Thanks, I owe you one." momentarily, I arrived about a few yards away from the office building. "This office building seems vaguely familiar to me." I said to myself, taking a good look at the building. "Yeah, I remember this place."
_____ It was two years ago. An informant gave the precinct a tip on a drug deal that went down at this place." We had disregarded it as some guy playing a practical joke, but when the aliases "White Magic" and "Breeze" were mentioned, we knew it was legitimate. White Magic's real name was Kevin Veracruz. Breeze's real name was... And then it dawned on me. Breeze's real name was Joseph Stiles. I had put Raymond Stile's father away for life.
_____Having illegal drugs with the intention of distributing could get anyone 25 years at the maximum, but he was wanted in at least half a dozen murders that had stretched across the continental United States. It had been a pretty good collar, but it eventually had also paid a heavy price. My wife's murder was an act of revenge in part of an only son, willing to save face for his incarcerated father.

_________________________________ * * *

____I didn't go straight home after having that startling discovery.I should have known that something like this would happen. Considering the pull that the Stiles family had in Los Angeles, it was amazing that something of a lesser magnitude had not occurred sooner. I decided to head to The Black Sun, a bar, to drown my sorrows. This is the very bar where I had met Carla, and where I had been putting aside my inner demons. The bartender, whose name was Larry, recognized me from years past, and asked me what I'd like to drink.
____"Let's start with a beer," I said, as I picked through the roasted peanuts.
____"You seem out of it," he said as he set the beer bottle in front of me. "Bad day at the precinct?"
____"I quit four and a half months ago. Every day after that was a bad day." I said, getting ready to drink my beer."
____"Why did you quit?" Larry asked. I started to get disgusted with Larry. "Where have you been for the past three months? She's dead. On 9/11 some guy looking for revenge after I put his old man away for life shot my wife at the front door. To top that all off, the captain of my former precinct kept me off her case. THAT is why I quit. Are you satisfied now?" I asked, too pissed off to drink. I paid for my untouched beer and walked out.
____While I sat in my SUB collecting my thoughts, I was glad that I didn't drink that beer. If I got started, I would be going non-stop until I had drunk myself into a deeper hole. I knew that the only way for me to get any answers in this case was to head back to the place that I had begun to loathe. I would have to head back to my old precinct and reconcile with Captain Hayes.

_____As I stepped into the precinct, I got a somewhat warm welcome from my colleagues as I made my way to the caption's office. Shaun stopped me halfway, and led me to the lounge room.
_____"So, Mike, what's going on with that investigation?" Shaun asked, as he went to pour himself a cup of coffee.
_____"Coffee this late? The investigation is going good. I found out something about my suspect."
_____"Shaun, the guy who owns that car is Raymond Stiles. He is the son of Joseph "Breeze" Stiles." Shaun almost dropped his coffee on his lap when I told him that. Breeze Stiles had been the biggest drug dealer on the West Coast.
____"Woah! So this guy who killed your wife took revenge for his old man who is rotting in a prison cell for life?"
____"Yeah, and I think I need to speak with the captain. I'm thinking of rejoining the force."
____"Really? From what the captain told me, Mike, you were on leave. Your badge and gun never left that same spot on the desk where you put them." Shaun took another sip.

____After learning that, it seemed that getting my job back would be a piece of cake. I arrived at Captain Haye's office door and knocked three times.

____"Come in," Hayes said. As I opened the door, I noticed my gun and badges still sitting in the same place I had left them. The captain looked up, and gave me a slight grin. "Michael, just the man I wanted to see. I gather you see your things are still here." Hayes stood to shake my hand.

____"Yes, it's a little surprising," I responded. "Listen sir, about our last meeting. I wanted to apologize for my brashness. I was ticked off about the investigation, and..."

____"Michael, I'm putting you back on the force. After you left that day, I was kicking myself ever since. Instead of thinking about the morale of my officers, I was thinking about the upcoming budget committee meeting, and what we could add on with our repertoire of guns, armor, and ammunition. If you want your job back, it's yours."

____Surprised, I only answered, "O.K."

______________________________ * * *

I set up a meeting at the precinct to talk with the man who had my wife killed. There was no doubt in my mind that wit would be an emotional confrontation. I sat in the interrogation room where the prisoners met with family and their lawyers. The entrance opened to reveal Joseph "Breeze" Stiles, the man I had put away for life. The look on his face was one of slight astonishment, as he took his seat across from me. "Well, well, if it isn't Michael Hall, the boy who put me here. I can't say that I'm pleased to see you here, but I am--"
____"Disappointed that your son couldn't do his job? I interrupted, "Well, for your own expense and pleasure, he did. He took away the only thing that meant something to me."
_____"Your wife's death was an accident. He was supposed to kill you."
_____"An accident, huh?" Infuriated, I raised my voice,"Let's say that I shot you right here and now. What would you call that?"
_____Joseph looked at me with a slight grin."I'd call it 'police brutality,'." With that, I rose from the chair, slamming Joseph down on the ground, my handgun drawn and cocked as I aimed it against his temple.
_____"Why shouldn't I kill you now? Why shouldn't I rid myself of the man who took everything from me?"

_____"Because when you kill me, the pain will never fully go away. I've wronged you in the worst way imaginable, as you have wronged me. I was trying to rebuild a relationship with my son. My only son Raymond. I will never see what the world can offer a man who wants to start over again.
_____"Go ahead. Do it," Joseph said as he closed his eyes. "I'm already dead."

_____The notion of killing him seemed very tempting, but in my mind, my wife's voice came into fruition but the words that she spoke did not come from her exactly. "Sometimes life isn't fair. We are not meant to have all the things that we want. But when certain things, or when certain people come into our lives, some of us cherish them. The others are the ones who forget they are gifts from God. You, of all people, should realize that.
_____"You loved me as much as I loved you. Vengeance is a thing that never gets the full justice that it deserves. My body is no longer here. But my love and my memories remain. If you kill him, you are no better than the one that took my life."
_____After hearing her voice, I withdrew the gun from Joseph's temple and backed away. "You and your son will get reacquainted here. It looks like we'll both get what we wanted," I said as I exited the room.
____Myself and several squad cars arrived at Raymond Stiles' home. Apparently, Joseph had spoken to him after my visit. Raymond stood at the doorway with his hands up. I was the first to get to Raymond. I placed my handcuffs on him, and escorted him to the police car. As he entered the car, he gave me the oddest stare. It was not a stirrer that indicated anger or happiness. It was a look that could be found on men and women that had regrets on things that they have done in the past. They knew wholeheartedly that there was nothing they could do to change what was done. It was at that very moment that I forgave the men who had taken Carla's life.
____I walked away from the car and watched it drive off. I went over to my car to sit inside, but I fumbled with the keys holding back tears that had not been shed in moths. They were tears of both pain and happiness. I was relieved to have ended this ordeal in a positive note. Yet although I had succeeded, the emptiness still resided. Joseph was right. The pain never seems to go away.

____A few days later, I went to Carla's gravesite for the first time in four months. It was the start of the New Year, but the past seemed to heave reared its ugly head, into everyone's thoughts. On September 11th, 2001, my life changed dramatically, as well as it did for those who were unfortunate to heave witnessed the atrocities that occurred that day. I still had my sunglasses but I threw them to the ground as I knelt at her grave.
____"There are some things in life I'll never understand. Did Bush's brother tamper with those absentee ballots? Did O.J. Simpson really kill his wife? What if I never was a police officer? Would you still be alive if I weren't? I can never be sure of those things.
____"They may come to me one day, or stay forever hidden. However, I do know one thing. I'm grateful for the time we spent together. I cherished every moment that we shared, although I did not seem to show it. Thank you for giving me understanding. Thank you for giving me honesty. Thank you for giving me love. These things I will find hard to repay. Rest in peace."
____I lay a bouquet of assorted flowers on her tombstone. With that, I walked away from her grave, renewed and collected. Bengeance is not as fulfiling as some would hope. We have seen in the past when persons take the law into their own hands. The satisfaction in finally getting justice for any wrong that was done unto one person is a passing thing.
____When one goes as far as taking a life for a life, the guilt begins to set in. We start to become the monster that everyone fears. My wife is gone, but her pesence is felt everyday. This is dedicated to those that have lost someone dear to them through violence or ill circumstances. Remember these words,
"Dearly beloved, avenge not youselves, but rather give place unto wriath: For it is written, Vengeancd is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord."
--Romans 12:19

[David Brandon Thomas lives and works in a small farming and logging community in Coastal Georgia. During the days, he works at a warehouse. He is a writer who aspires to make films.]

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Soldiers and their families still enjoyed the last precious moments of freedom together prior to the formation at twelve hundred-- that's 12 noon for us civilians-- Saturday before the final preparation for the parade and ceremony to be held in that afternoon. National Guard Units from Puerto Rico, Maryland, Illinois, and throughout Georgia gathered at the field by the hospital while families moved to get seats around the field across post, at Cottrell Field.

"I'm at ease with it," said PFC Ramiro Nevarez, speaking of the upcoming deployment. " I just want to get it over with." He and his wife Adela, their 7 year-old daughter Jazmin, and his parents Ramiro and Olivia Ramirez are from Sand Hills community.

CW4 James Weitman, of Glennville assessed how his family had changed since the news broke five months ago that they would indeed deploy:"Back then, the deployment wasn't really a reality." Now, it loomed close on the horizon. "Now, it's really getting to be a reality." He added,"All of the churches and everybody you meet on the street have reached out. It's very much appreciated."

"You've got the home town love. It's great to be from a small town like Glennville." James and Jenny Weitman are of Glennville. He will miss all his family, especially their young granddaughter Shelby.

When asked how he felt about the Guard's role in this deployment, Chief Weitman added,"The war on terrorism has changed everyone's lifestyle. So many active duty soldiers have gone, and now, it's just our turn this time."

Asked about SFC Tommy Kennedy, he informed the Sentinel that Sergeant Kennedy had gone with the 118th HHB to Kuwait last Sunday. SFC Tommy Kennedy, his wife Yvette, and daughters Savannah and Hagan are of Glennville.

Other Guard Members deploying include Glennville residents CPT Jim Shuman, First Sergeant Bobby Barnes,First Sergeant Charles Christenbury,Master Sergeant Frank Hood, SFC Tim Fair, SFC Gregory Edwards, SFC Tommy Kennedy, SSG Mark Kicklighter, Staff Sergeant Paul Peterson, SGT Dale Wasson, SGT Kenneth Holiday, and Sergeant SGT Gary Levant, Ronnie Deloach.

During the pass and review ceremony, General Rodeheaver proudly pronounced the Georgia National Guard "fit to fight." Governor Purdue presented him with a flag of the state of Georgia. Each of the units were called to attention. When the 648th Engineer Task force was called, a fierce "Strike hard!" sounded out. The Army Band played, and the units each in turn marched, passed the audience in the stands, among whom were Governor Purdue, Senator Johnny Isaakson, General Rodeheaver, and Adjutant General Poythress.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday afternoon, at the Family Day festival on the O'Connor Parade Field in the National Guard Training Center at Fort Stewart, Sergeant Billy Morgan and wife,Susan Morgan, of Glennville, and Sergeant Morgan's mother Ola Morgan, of Reidsville, relaxed under the shade of the Army Family support Services tent. Already, it had been a long hard week for the Morgans. Sergeant Morgan is the supply sergeant for Alpha, 658th Engineers. His wife is the enlisted personnel's coordinator for the Family Support Team.

The men and women of Georgia's 48th Infantry Brigade celebrated their departure to Iraq last weekend, with military pomp. Among these National Guard soldiers were some of Glennville's and Tattnall County's own sons and daughters, who, even as this story is being written, bidding sad farewells to their loved ones, both family and friends. I asked Sergeant Morgan what he would like to say about this upcoming deployment. He gave me the standard line approved and issued by the Public Affairs Office:

"We are off to support Operation Enduring Freedom and to fight the global war on terrorism."

Of course, everyone knows this, or is aware that this deployment is purported to be in the name of freedom and democracy, and altruistic endeavour launched by President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and their allies in 2002, hardly more than a year after the hijacking and ramming of the planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Although I reconnoitered the rest of the festival tents, games, and stage area, where some sort of speech was being delivered, I saw no more troops or family members from Glennville that I recognized, so I went home for the evening, to rest in anticipation for the long day ahead of us. I'd be going to Statesboro to sign some papers, then driving back to Fort Stewart for the farewell ceremony on Cottrell Parade Field.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Thursday evening, after the brief PTA Meeting at Glennville Elementary School, we drove to the fast food restaurant which has a play area. In the cool shade and the pleasant twilight, I read from Harper's while Maren ate, and the children played among the slide tubes and tunnels made of plastic in bright primary colours.

Maren spotted a soldier and a woman getting out of a car nearby. He had on the new light uniform of camouflage now better suited to both a desert environment and the urban streets of Iraq. The soldier and his wife we recognized as Sergeant Billy Morgan and his wife Susan Morgan, of Glennville. He is the supply sergeant for A 648th Engineers, the very same sergeant who had issued me my gear, and taken it back a little over a month later, when the Guard realized they couldn't keep me, due to the disabilities I'd sustained during active duty with the 11th Engineers of the Third Infantry Division, and earlier, the 101st Airborne Division.

It was around eight in the evening. We learned that Billy and Susan had just driven over from Fort Stewart, where he'd been pulling and unexpectedly late duty, issuing weapons, while his wife Susan waited in the car.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Brent Walker hold a coloring contest for children.

Of course, for children. There are three age categories: 2-4, 5-8, and 9-12 years. First place winner in each category gets a $50.00 U.S. Savings Bond.

The colored entries must be brought to the Brent Walker Ford Dealership in Glennville by 11 May 2005. Winners will be announced on 14 May 2005.

I will contact Brent Walker Ford for more details. They are located on the Main Drag, that is to say, N. Downing Grove Hwy, in Glennville, in Tattnall County. That's Route 301 s. from Statesboro, or n. from the Florida state line. Or east on 144 from Richmond Hill, Bryan County, for you folks who ply the I-95 north and south the Georgia Coast.
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