The events in Paris were hanging over us as we began the interview, and we sighed for a moment as we realized that, like it or not, we are at war, and a so called “holy war” at that. We talked about the fact that we had just come off of a wonderful local celebration of Veterans’ Day, and the connection between Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving is obvious: we would not be free without our vets, and now that ISIS is in all 50 states, whether vets are active or not, they will be our first line of defense.
Mayor Ronnie, when he came home from Vietnam 45 years ago, participated in several burials of fellow soldiers who had fallen. There was a specific ceremony that goes into making the triangular flag that is given to the family, and it fell upon Ronnie, as a member of the burial detail, to be the one who would hand the flag to the primary family member while saying, “On behalf of a grateful nation…” The 13 fold ceremony is one of great precision, and the Mayor had been pleased to see it recreated by young people at his granddaughter’s school, (Pizitz Middle) located near Hoover.
“We need to hang on to the November holidays,” he said, and by that he meant Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving, and not let either one of them get overshadowed by Christmas. We reminisced about the holidays when we were kids. Christmas decorations were never up before Thanksgiving, and there was no Black Friday. Thanksgiving was always and only Thanksgiving, and it was the day after that the stores put up their decorations. “I understand the commercial side of Christmas,” he said, “but I am old school, and it’s aggravating. Are we going to just start calling November “Black November?” I nodded in agreement.
“This is a time to be with family and friends, and to go to church,” he said. And, while the attacks on Paris are not as extensive as 9/11 were to us as Americans, they are devastating to France, and France is our ally. We expressed our amazement that France had actually declared war on Syria, and he said, “We will need to be there to help them.”
I got “feffered up,” as my husband Steve would say, over the strategy of terrorism, which is always to control by fear. “What if,” I said, “everyone in Athens decided that live or die, they were the Lord’s, what power would ISIS have then?” He nodded, and added, “We have to be alert when we are at events and other places. More than refusing to be afraid, we have to concentrate on all of the ‘good stuff’ for which we can be thankful,” he said. “More people are involved in more things at the local level, and we have been energized. This is no time to circle the wagons,” he said. Then we discussed the upcoming Thanksgiving dinners being held for Vets and the community on Thanksgiving Day, prayed, and it was time once again for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner