The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Friday, July 6, 2007

Honoring the Troops and the Tribune Column

Last Friday evening at the opening ceremonies of the Alabama Sports Festival, veterans and active duty armed service members deployed since 9-11-01, from Alabama, were honored and each received a medal during the ceremony. Those who have lost their lives were also honored.

Bobby's nephew Jeff, a former U S Marine, was one of the honorees and here is a picture of his medal.

It was dark, but the crowd was very sincere and did not hold back in showing their support.

A member of the Gardendale First Batist Church carried a lit candle for each troop killed in Afghanistan or Iraq, and they marched single file into the arena. There have been more than 80 casualties from our state, and that number really seems big when they are marching single file and lining the floor of the BJCC arena. It is a big number. ( I am not sure where they got their number, but regardless of the true number, it is too high).

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church. During this meeting we will finish up some tasks such as developing our mission statement and setting our goal and objectives.

The proposed Mission Statement is broad: The Mission of the Bessemer Neighborhood Association is to improve the quality of life throughout Bessemer and its surrounding communities.

But the goals and objectives are clear and precise. I will post those later, after the meeting, during which we will also be setting into motion our Action Plan to accomplish our goals.

There is at least one Bessemer elected offical who is not too happy about our groups efforts, and at least one police officer who has been critical of my involvement.

Here is my column from The Western Tribune on July4, addressing crime.


Bessemer is in a crisis situation, and not a word is said. Not the words the community wants to hear, anyway. Statistics released in mid-May reported violent crimes were down during the first three months of the year but we have had at least half a dozen murders since that time.

Three women, one teenage boy, and two men were killed within a matter of weeks. In my community, residents are unsure of their safety. A rally was held during which community leaders were asked to speak to give encouragement to the community and to offer solutions to the problems that lead to this type of violence.

Or so I thought. There was no police presence at the rally to offer support and encouragement. Two elected city officials spoke, Mayor Ed May and Councilman Earl Cochran, but both turned to their preaching skills rather than their problem solving skills. Several preachers also spoke. No one said that the city was making any kind of assessment of the conditions that lead to violence, or making recommendations to control it.

I also was called to speak, without advance notice, and I brought up a second tragedy that is gripping our city as a result of the multiple murders. Residents are afraid to come out of their homes. Being confined in your homes by fear, whether justified or not, is bad for your health. Residents who should be out enjoying healthy activities like walking or gardening are instead sitting inside with increased stress levels, further affecting their quality of life.

Why was there no mention of what the city is doing to combat crime? Should we assume that the city is not concerned? The meeting seemed more a photo op than a problem solving rally. Neighbors on Dartmouth Avenue were disappointed, and have their own ideas of what the problems are and how they can be dealt with. A meeting was called that will have occurred by the time you read this, to which every resident living on Dartmouth Avenue was invited to give their input. An organization was formed, and an assessment of the problems has begun. Because our city is not taking action, outside experts will be called in to help insiders find solutions.

Prayer is good and can be a useful tool in changing people’s attitude and outlook. And faith can bring us together. But action is also required. Faith without works is dead and to only offer prayer as a solution does nothing to increase our safety. If that were so, we could just pray the prisons empty and the battlefields cleared as crime and terrorism would no longer exist.

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