A local coalition of civic organizations and churches gathered at the Tattnall County Veterans Memorial Park in Reidsville early Friday morning, October 28, 2022, to provide a meal of grilled chicken and side orders including beans, potato salad, slaw with rolls and a variety of cakes to local first responders including sheriff’s deputies, police officers, emergency medical personnel, firefighters and Canoochee EMC linemen and employees to recognize and honor their service. Members of VFW 7764 arrived at 7:30 a.m. to fire up Gene Williams’ grill to cook chicken quarters for the event, and others including members of the Tattnall County Retired Educators and members of various local churches arrived a short time later with soft drinks, water, and side orders including deserts for the meal. Serving began at 11 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m. Approximately 135 plates were served or delivered to first responders.
Wanda Kunney Mosley, President of the Tattnall Retired Educators, officially opened the event when she welcomed about 20 first responders who were present when the serving line opened at 11 a.m. After her opening statements, she introduced Dr. Cynthia Joyce who provided the following inspirational message.
By Dr. Cynthia Joyce
“Words are not enough to express our admiration and gratitude for your bravery in running towards danger to keep us all safe. Thank you!
Now and then, the safety and integrity of our communities are threatened. It could be from a natural disaster or from unruly elements that rear their ugly heads ever so often. Needless to say, every community as a whole owes its survival to you, the first responders who serve them. We should all be grateful to you for keeping our communities together oftentimes at great risk to your own lives. Thank You!
For putting your life on the line to keep us safe. Thank You!
Your courage and bravery are the threads that hold this community together. Thank You!
If we had the whole world to give you, it still wouldn’t be enough to pay you for the selfless services you render to keep our community together. Thank You!
We can’t give you the whole world. However, we can recognize the sacrifices you make in your line of work, and we’d like to let you know that we are grateful for it. Thank You!
We are here today to say thank you for selflessly giving yourself day after day. What you do is one of the reasons we can lead happy lives. Thank you!
You represent the best of humanity by helping those in need and protecting our loved ones. Thank You!
You are the calm voice in the midst of chaos. Thank You!
You sacrifice time away from your families to help families in need. Thank You!
For everything you are doing to help us all, you are deserving of our applause, respect, and so much more. Thank You!
Dr. Joyce also delivered the invocation and Cynthia Calhoun sang the National Anthem which always sends chills up the spine for those who love this country. As is always true with Cynthia, musical accompaniment would only serve to detract from her voice.
At that time, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7764 Quartermaster Ronnie Thomas blessed the food and general conversation was noticeably reduced shortly thereafter. Members of the VFW cooking crew noticed that right after he said “amen,” Quartermaster Thomas was one of the first in line to sample the fruits of local labor. When Trace Simmons confronted him, he made a logical argument. “I got here early and didn’t eat breakfast…” Most VFW members who overheard that excuse agreed that it was a direct quotation of Chairman Jackie Trim. Not only was it a good day, those present had a lot of fun.
Organizations that volunteered or provided food and services include: Tattnall Retired Educators Association, VFW Post 7764 and Auxiliary, St. Williams Missionary Baptist Church, Reidsville Garden Club, Springfield Missionary Baptist Church, The Alexander Hotel Historical Society, Grace Pointe Church, Reidsville Baptist Church, Earnest Armstrong (the Pit), Friendship Baptist Church, Reidsville Church of God, and Collins Bobcat.
Some organizations wisely chose to involve their young people in the effort. According to Lisa Trim, Grace Pointe Church had their youth label the bottles of water that the church provided to let First Responders know that they appreciated their efforts. What a novel idea. Teach our children to serve and do right, and they will be more likely to serve and do right as they get older. Specifically, “Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart.” Prov. 22:6.
In retrospect, it was the kind of day that communities around the nation could use to bring their people together. Dr. Cynthia Joyce’s message of appreciation was appropriate and true, and it was a missive that more Americans need to hear, appreciate and embrace. Lee Greenwood says it best. “God Bless the U.S.A.”