With help from the University of Georgia, Hartwell now has a new “How to Start a Business in Hartwell” guide. It is a holistic approach to starting a business at the macro and micro levels. If you have any questions, please reach out to Hartwell Main Street at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are print copies, but the full version with templates for plans are on Hart County Chamber of Commerce’s website. https://www.hart-chamber.org/introduction
Hartwell’s Main Street Program will be named Georgia Main Street Program of the Month in January 2020. This is an incredible honor as there are 118 Main Street Communities to choose from. With this announcement, Hartwell will gain State-wide notoriety as the feature community on the Georgia Main Street website at www.georgiamainstreet.org. In a statement to Georgia Main Street, Downtown Development Authority – Main Street Executive Director Jason Ford said, “Hartwell has been a Georgia Main Street community since 1997. The resurgence of Main Street can be highlighted in our community, and yet as we grow, Hartwell is still a quintessential American hometown. Hartwell has a spirit of volunteerism that is second to none. It is the collective effort of individuals guided through the Georgia Main Street Program that makes our program and our community thrive. Hartwell was designated as a Rural Zone in 2019, which has led to nearly $1.5 million dollars in private investment in the Hartwell Main Street District. 12 new businesses were started in 2019 creating over 60 new jobs downtown since January 2019! Six buildings have been purchased, revitalized or both. The City of Hartwell has matched that momentum by investing just over $1 million dollars in new infrastructure and streetscape upgrades in 2019, with revitalization of our historic train depot, and several business openings on the horizon. This wouldn’t be possible without partners like DCA, ARC, GMRC, and Archway. Additionally, over 20 events were held in the Hartwell Main Street district this year bringing thousands of people downtown. The Georgia Main Street Program is a meaningful supportive program for Georgia’s communities, and Hartwell looks forward to a continued partnership.”
Without the effort of our volunteers, our program would never achieve the great successes we have seen recently. There are over 25 people who currently volunteer with Hartwell’s Main Street Program. If you are interested in serving in the Hartwell Main Street Program, please reach out to staff at email@example.com
Hartwell’s Main Street Program would like to thank the Mayor, City Council, City Administration, Sponsors, and Partners for their continued support.
By the President of the United States of America.
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.”
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State
To: Hartwell Main Street Volunteers,
I offer you my greetings and well wishes. I do hope this finds each of you well. Another year has come, and is nearly gone. The year in Hartwell has been dynamic. As an organization, whose roll is economic development, each of our volunteers have worked tirelessly to promote Hartwell as a place to do business. But not just a place to do business, as a place to live. Now we know, there is more to community development than ribbon cuttings. That result is to be celebrated, yet the real work in the trenches is not often seen. I want to thank you for the tireless effort that is volunteerism. Let’s face it, you could be doing something else; likely something else you find more enjoyable. Volunteerism isn’t possible without sacrifice.
I often talk about Hartwell and how the spirit of volunteerism is as strong here as anyplace I have ever been. Hartwell has been noticed by other Main Street programs. I have received several calls about our program, how it works, and how is it successful? I always answer with one word: volunteers.
I am reminded of a conversation I recently had with a dear friend of mine, Samar Gul, who was an interpreter for my unit in Afghanistan. I asked why…why volunteer for this job knowing it could get you and your family targeted by the Taliban. He answered in such an eloquent and simple way, “that volunteerism encourages responsibility.”
This group of Hartwell Main Street Volunteers, and other volunteers in the community are a force that encourages responsibility and is, in my opinion, the glue that holds together and protects the identity of Hartwell. To that I say, stay the course, and thank you for your service to this community.
With the highest regards,
Jason Ford -Economic and Community Development Director, Hartwell
It is that time of year again. We are working on summarizing all the work we have done this year, and at the same time preparing for 2020. I thought I would just take a moment and share with you the impact of the Main Street Program across Georgia. There are 155 Main Street cities. Across Georgia in 2018, over 3000 jobs were created as a result of the program, and 657 buildings were renovated. Volunteers across the state worked nearly 821,000 hours supporting their communities. Finally, there was $533 million dollars spent on public and private investment.
As the year pulls towards the end, we are working on compiling those numbers for our local Main Street Program. This year has been a phenomenal year for Downtown Hartwell. Buildings have been renovated, businesses have been opened, and capital projects are near completion. It has been an exciting year, and 2020 looks good also. This is in no small part to our designation as a Rural Zone. This program will generate thousands of dollars in tax credits for job creators and investors in our Downtown over the next five years, which will incentivize economic growth necessary to keep pace in a competitive market place. The idea being, to invite local and regional entrepreneurs to start their businesses in Downtown so that we can protect the charm and character of Hartwell. After all, the Main Street Program’s goal is to look at economic growth through the lens of historic preservation. It is one of the most important goals of our program.
The History of Scarecrows
I must admit, I did not put this together. It was from a file that was on the Main Street computer that I found plugging around. I found it pretty interesting. Did anyone else know this?
Hungry birds have always been a problem for farmers. Sometimes the birds ate so much corn or wheat that a farmer and his family would not have enough food to last through the winter. So, for more than 3,000 years, farmers have been making scarecrows.
The first scarecrows in recorded history were made along the Nile River to protect wheat fields from flocks of quail. Egyptian farmers put wooden frames in their fields and covered them with nets. The farmers hid in the fields and scared the quail into the nets. Then they took them home and ate them for dinner!
Twenty-five hundred years ago Greek farmers carved wooden scarecrows to look like Priapus, the son of the god Dionysus and the goddess Aphrodite. Priapus lived with some vineyard keepers and it is said that he was very ugly. The vineyard keepers noticed that when Priapus played in the vineyards the birds stayed away from the grapes and the harvest was the best ever. Other farmers decided to make statues that looked like Priapus to use in their vineyards. They painted the figures purple and put a club in one hand to make the statue look more dangerous and a sickle in the other for a good harvest.
The Romans copied the Greek custom and made carved scarecrows too. When Roman armies went to places like France, Germany, and England they introduced the people who lived there to Priapus scarecrows.
Japanese farmers also began making scarecrows to protect their rice fields about the same time the Greeks and Romans made their wooden statues. At first the Japanese farmers hung old rags, meat, or fish bones from bamboo poles in their fields. Then they set the sticks on fire and the smell was so bad that birds and other animals stayed away from the rice. The Japanese farmers called their scarecrows kakashis which means something that smells badly. Soon Japanese farmers also made scarecrows that looked like people. They were dressed in a raincoat made of reeds and a round straw hat that rose to a peak in the middle. Bows and arrows were often added to make them look more threatening. These scarecrows were also called kakashis even if they didn’t stink!
The Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages in Europe, farmers made scarecrows which they believed had special powers. In Italy skulls of animals were placed on the tops of tall poles in the fields. Farmers believed the skulls would scare away birds and protect crops from diseases. In Germany farmers made wooden witches and put them in their fields at the end of winter. They believed that witches would draw the evil spirit of winter into their bodies so spring could come.
In Medieval Britain scarecrows were live boys who were 9 years old or older. Known as bird scarers or bird shooers, they patrolled wheat fields carrying bags of stones. If crows or starlings landed in the fields they would chase them off by waving their arms and throwing the stones.
The Great Plague killed almost half the people in Britain in 1348, so landowners couldn’t find enough bird scarers to protect their crops. They stuffed sacks with straw, carved faces in turnips or gourds, and made scarecrows that stood against poles.
The boys and sometimes girls who survived the plague and still worked as bird scarers had to patrol 2 or 3 acres by themselves. So, instead of bags of stone, the children carried clappers made of 2 or 3 pieces of wood joined together at one end. The noise made by the clappers scared off whole flocks of birds. Bird scarers continued to patrol British fields until the early 1800s when new factories and mines opened up and offered children better paying jobs.
To protect their corn crops Native American tribes throughout North America used scarecrows or bird scarers. Most native bird scarers were adult men. Some, in what is now Virginia and North Carolina, sat on raised wooden platforms and howled and shouted if crows or woodchucks came near the corn. In Georgia, the Creek’s families moved into huts in their corn fields during the growing season to protect the crop from birds and other animals. Seneca tribes, in what is now New York, soaked corn seeds in a poisonous herb mixture that would make the crows fly crazily around the fields and scare away the other birds.
In the American Southwest, Zuni children in the late 1800s had contests to see who could make the most unusual scarecrow. The Zunis also used yucca lines to protect their corn fields from pests. They placed cedar poles about 6 to 9 feet apart all over the cornfield. Cords made from the fiber of the yucca plants were strung from pole to pole like clotheslines. Rags, pieces of dog and coyote skins, and the shoulder blades of animals were hung from the lines. The waving rags and clacking blades kept most birds away. The Navajos also made scarecrows and used bird scarers. One Navajo scarecrow in the 1930s was reported to be a teddy bear fastened to the top of a pole and was said to work very well.
The Colonies and the United States
When Europeans began to settle in North America in the 1600s they stood guard in their fields to protect the crops they needed for survival. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, all members of Pilgrim families all took turns being bird scarers. They not only had to scare away crows but wolves as well. The wolves were always trying to dig up the fish the Pilgrims buried with their corn seeds to help the seeds grow.
By the 1700s, the growing American colonies needed more and more grain and farmers decided that neither farmers nor bird scarers were protecting the crops well enough. So towns all along the Atlantic coast offered bounties for dead crows. So many crows were killed that in the 1800s a new problem arose. Corn borers and other worms and insects which were once eaten by the crows were now destroying more corn and wheat than the crows had. Towns stopped offering bounties and farmers went back to making scarecrows.
Immigrants who moved to the United States during the 1800s brought with them a variety of ideas for making scarecrows. In Pennsylvania, German farmers built human looking scarecrows called a bootzamon or bogeyman. His body was a wooden cross and his head was a broom or mop top or a cloth bundle stuffed with straw. The bootzamon wore old overalls, a long-sleeved shirt or coat, a worn woolen or straw hat, and a large red hankerchief around his neck. Sometimes a second scarecrow was built to keep the bootzamon company. A bootzafrau or bogeywife, dressed in a long dress or coat and wearing a sunbonnet on her head, was placed on the opposite end of the field. The bootzamon and bootzafrau guarded cornfields, strawberry patches, and cherry orchards.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s scarecrows became very popular and could be found all across America. Then after World War II farming became a big business and farmers decided scarecrows didn’t work. So they started spraying or dusting their crops with poisonous chemicals like DDT until in the 1960s scientists discovered that these chemicals might hurt people who ate the sprayed crops.
Then some farmers built contraptions like whirligigs that spun in the air like windmills to scare away the birds. A British company invented an automatic crop protector which was a metal box with 3 arms that was placed on top of a pole. The box contained caps that exploded every 45 minutes and made the 3 metal arms flap up and down. Unfortunately, the noise and clashing metal arms scared away the neighbors as well as the birds!
Farmers still use scarecrows all over the world. In countries like India and some Arab nations, old men sit in chairs and throw stones at the birds who try to eat their crops just like the bird scarers of long ago. During the growing season scarecrows still stand in fields around the world and each fall many communities have scarecrow contests like the Zuni children did. As long as birds are hungry farmers will look for ways to SCARE CROWS!
As it relates to building rehabilitation and historic preservation. The Secretary of the Interior of the United States published the following standards. The Hartwell Main Street Design Committee and Hartwell’s Historic Preservation Commission works to adhere to these standards in order to preserve Hartwell’s Historic esthetic.
1. A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.
2. The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.
3. Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken.
4. Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.
5. Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property shall be preserved.
6. Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.
7. Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used. The surface cleaning of structures, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible.
8. Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.
9. New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.
10. New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.
When, In the course of human events… This is the beginning of a document that changed the world, but not the beginning of a movement. The true beginning is likely impossible to pinpoint, however on June 7th, 1776, Virginian Richard Henry Lee made a motion known as Lee’s Resolution for independence from Great Britain. It was tabled for a day and debated on June 8th. After much discussion, it was tabled again; when it was brought back up on July 1st, 1776. In the meantime a committee met to draft a declaration: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston were charged with the task. Thomas Jefferson, being mighty with the pen, was encouraged to write the first draft. After revision, we are left with our Declaration of Independence, which we will celebrate this weekend, and over the next week.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Nicki Meyer passed away on June 13th, 2019. In fact, I was on a conference call with her just before what turned out to be the end. As you may have guessed, the TORCH revitalization of Railroad Street was the topic. Sadly, I had just penned a note to her that didn’t make it to post.
I know this won’t find you in good health, but I hope it finds you in good spirit. I wanted to just jot down a few words of thanks. In the short time I’ve been in Hartwell, you’ve been kind to me and I appreciate that. I know it can be frustrating when the “new guy” comes to town, and you are having to catch him up on the work of the day. 🙂 You’re dedication to this community is worthy of celebration. It reminds me of something Teddy Roosevelt said, “far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” You epitomized that mission. Do rest well during this time. I wish for you all the comfort you need. I think it is ok for you to go ahead and relax for a while. I pray you are surrounded with family and friends, and that peace is in your heart.
In my mind, there is no more fitting way to honor Nicki, than to push the project she was so passionate about across the finish line. I think there is widespread agreement that naming the park Nicki Meyer Railroad Street Park (or something to that effect) is appropriate. I leave you with the words that is inside the TORCH flyer. “Imagine transforming an abandoned block in downtown Hartwell into a community-centric park and regional tourist destination. Picture a pristine welcoming promenade; cool, green, and inviting. Imagine the opportunity to buy a wide variety of local crafts and heart healthy foods, amid an architectural plan that includes a historic depot and train museum, a city marketplace, a train-themed restaurant, a walking path, and much much more. Envision listening to concerts or taking in an outdoor art show in the promenade while your children play in the splash fountain and playground. Now imagine all this connected by a combination walking and biking path featuring wellness/fitness stations and the opportunity to enjoy low impact exercise for any age. TORCH is bringing this vision to life. With your help, private citizens, local corporations, City and state governments, civic organizations and community focused foundations, TORCH is embarking on a multi-year venture. Help us light the torch!”
John Beale was one of the first guys I met when I got to my unit. He quickly took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. He made it easy for me to settle in, because he seemed to be well liked by just about everybody, which is impressive in the Army. John loved Peanut M&Ms and in fact, I have a great picture of him just opening some up with a “what’s up” look on his face. Of course as time goes by, soldiers get shifted around. Unit transfers and promotions keep folks just close enough to see each other from time to time, but not daily. And so it was for me and John. I considered him a friend, though we only got to see each other from time to time. That changed when we got to Afghanistan. We arrived to Camp Phoenix weary eyed and tired from the flight, the time change, and lugging all our gear at the new altitude. I tossed my gear on my bunk and looked up. John was there on the bunk next to me; he looked up and I was greeted with the beloved phrase “what’s up doc?” See I was a medic, and I got that phrase a lot. With a smile and a handshake, we helped each other get settled in for a few days before we found out our assignments. One night, as soldiers started getting pulled for missions, John was obviously somber. He said words that brings tears to my eyes even now as I write this. He said doc, “I don’t think I’m gonna make it through this one.” Now all soldiers have this sentiment I think; I know I did. It is just one of those things that goes through your head. I tried to pep him up and slap him on the back with the encouragement we all provide each other. I am sure I used some colorful “army language” in our discussion. Of course he smiled and shrugged it off. We all do. After all the job has to get done, no matter how we feel about it. The day came for me and John to split. We were both going to Kapisa, but he was in a different valley than I was. A few weeks went by and I got the news. It was June 4th, 2009. John’s truck had been hit by an IED. I was only 15 minutes away and could do nothing about it. My best friend was supposed to be on that mission, but Major Kevin Jenerette told him to stay back, take a shower, and get some hot chow. Those were luxury items down in the valley. Nobody survived the blast. Major J didn’t even have to be in that valley. He was our regimental executive officer, but he insisted on being there. The rest of our chain of command hardly ever came out. Major J defined leadership by his words and actions, even up to the end. He could have stayed back for some chow, but he insisted one of his “joes” get the chance. I didn’t know Jeffrey Jordon. I think he was 21 when he died. John was up in the gunner’s turret. The IED ripped through the HMMWV (Humvee) right below where he was standing. I could see it in my Captain’s eyes when he told us. The few of us who knew Maj. J or John couldn’t contain our emotions. Fear, grief, sadness, and anger raged through my veins…still does. When we left the wire, we went seeking revenge. It doesn’t matter what happened next really, my friend was gone, his wife widowed, and his children would now grow up without a dad. He was out there just doing his job. Two weeks before that another IED ripped through a HMMWV. Another one of my friends lost his leg. That should have been me on that truck. Because of rank and the ease of getting resupplied, we switched teams so that I could be the one to argue with the higher ups. I was trying to make his deployment easier. Guilt will never leave my heart. In that same blast, another guy I knew broke his back. He was set to retire after that deployment. He has a made a full recovery. Also, a young man I didn’t know, but got to know well, received a head wound. I did some wound care for him early on and he returned to duty. You see, Memorial Day is not a day for hot dogs and lakes for me. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be that for you, but as the divide between soldier and civilian grows, hearing stories like this will bring us back together. We live in a world where our nation is still at war, yet we get upset when our coffee takes to long. We complain about the heat or the cold, while .4% of our population is serving in our military today. While they are not first class citizens, they are important. They need their stories herd. I am a veteran, but this weekend is not for me. Please don’t thank me for my service. Listen to stories about my friends who this day is for; SFC John Beale, MAJ Kevin Jenerette, SGT Jeff Jordan, and others like them that didn’t come home. I miss my friend John, and I think of him often. I see his family on Facebook and chat through there. His daughter just graduated from high school. He loved Peanut M&Ms.