Good people doing good deeds. This is what makes Cobb County special. It is and has long been a part of our culture. I was a first-hand witness to that recently when the Vinings Bank honored Rev. Nelson Price, pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church on the occasion of his 90th birthday. People of all shapes, sizes and colors from throughout the county came to pay homage to one of Cobb’s leading citizens and his good deeds.
Now, it is the Kiwanis Club of Marietta’s turn with their massive Field of Flags ceremony. If there is something similar taking place around the region, I am not aware.
Organized once every five years, 2,977 American flags have been acquired to honor those individuals who perished in the terrorist attacks that felled New York's Twin Towers, damaged portions of the Pentagon and killed dozens of others when a hijacked plane crashed near Shanksville, Pa.
The club invited people to help carry the flags to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park where they will remain through this coming Saturday’s ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of a day that – like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – will live forever in infamy.
In addition to the 2,977 flags for the victims of 9-11, another 13 have been installed to honor the service men and women who were killed during the United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan last month. They stand alone and fly at half-staff.
On Saturday at 7:55 a.m., former New York Fire Department firefighter James D’Avolio will be the featured speaker at the event to honor the fallen. On Sept. 18, the flags will come down, with the assistance of volunteers.
According to the MDJ’s Aleks Gilbert’s report on Tuesday’s front page, Field of Flags attendees said memorials served a dual purpose: To keep the memory of that day alive for future generations, and to bring the community together. Both are critically important.
Most everyone reading these words will remember where they were on Sept. 11, 2001, and the shock we felt when the attacks occurred The question becomes will future generations remember – or care.
I liked the quote in Gilbert’s article by Mariettan George Warren, speaking of the Flag of Fields ceremony. “I think it's the most important thing that we could do today. I remember 9-11 when it happened, but she won't," Warren said referring to his baby daughter Caroline. "It'll just be a footnote in history. I mean, anybody can read about it, but when they engage in a communitywide event like this where we come together to honor those people and, you know, give thanks for what we have, it's powerful." That it is.
As for bringing our community together, we must be vigilant against those who would tear it down for partisan political purposes. I am still amazed at the chutzpah of Jacquelyn Bettadapur, chair of the Cobb County Democratic Party, who had the unmitigated gall to say that Cobb County was “born of white flight out of the 70’s and 80’s.” Other than the fact that she is as white as new-driven snow and deigned to fly her own self into our county from Nevada or wherever, she has no idea what she is talking about.
Bettadapur and her pals on the Cobb County School board who play the race card like it is a game of Faro should have been at the Nelson Price luncheon and heard retired Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court Robert Benham talk about how the two of them worked together to bridge racial barriers.
As I listened to Judge Benham’s moving tribute to his friend, I thought of all the people who have had a part in making Cobb County a great place to live and work and wondered if there are any coming along to take their place. Or, will we become another Atlanta, a place living on a reputation long since gone with the wind? Even their daily newspaper skipped town.
When I hear that the county’s PR maven wants to limit public comment at Cobb Board of Commissioner meetings to “bring Cobb into line with other metro area jurisdictions,” I realize he doesn’t have a clue what makes us special. Since when do we want to be like other jurisdictions?
I want to live in a county full of people like those I saw at Vinings Bank. I want to live in a county where a civic club creates and involves us in a magnificent event like the Flag of Fields ceremony. I want to live in a county where people are proud of our heritage and intent on doing good deeds together for the future rather than trying to tear us apart. So far, that has been Cobb County. A special place. I pray that never changes.