Abilene High School Class of 1961

“Our Town… Flag Story” by Nell Anne Walters Hunt, AHS 61

    By Nell Anne Walter Hunt  

         Since my responsibility of being Irving’s Resident Flag Lady is looming in the near future, I knew I needed to get myself mentally ready for this year’s Great Flag Caper for the Fourth of July.  Although my blood perpetually runs red, white and blue, this year has been a tough one for our Country, and I felt that even I needed a little patriotism jump- start. 

     One of my favorite things to do is to go to Presidential Libraries, and I have toured several memorable ones.  I have never been to the Carter one and with “Georgia on my Mind” I headed for Atlanta last weekend.   Accompanied by my friend who taught Government for many years, we toured the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta.  It was very interesting, but the adjoining Carter Center was the most fascinating of all.   The purpose of this Center is to promote peace all over the world by encouraging and overseeing democratic elections in countries where democracy is a new concept.  With the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others, they are also eradicating terrible diseases in Third World countries.  Their work with Habitat for Humanity is legendary, and both President and Mrs. Carter spend one week a year actually helping to build homes themselves with other volunteers.

     Our next stop was Jimmy’s hometown  of Plains (population 675).  Arriving on Saturday night, we discovered the one block long Main Street was blocked off by hay bales, and a band called “June Dogs” was playing.  Everyone in town (including the Carters) was square dancing.  They invited us to join them, and we had the peculiar honor of dancing with the President in what I imagined to be a potential Norman Rockwall painting.  Because the B & B was full that night, we were invited by the Carter’s minister and his lovely wife to stay in their beautiful 160-year-old home. They showed us pictures of their trip to Oslo with the Carters for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize.  The gracious Southern hospitality extended to breakfast complete with grits.

      On Sunday Jimmy Carter, as is his custom, was teaching Sunday School in the Maranatha Baptist Church.  There were 500 people from all over the world crowded in like sardines into the small sanctuary to hear the former President teach.  President Carter built all the cribs in the church, and Roslyn frequently helps in the cleaning duties of the church.  They are very dedicated to the work of this church and help support the church’s mission work around the world.  His lesson was on Ecclesiastes 3:  “For everything there is a Season….”  He spoke of his days in the Navy and of his favorite teacher.  The teacher, whom he called Miss Julia, taught them always to remember  that “Everyone must accommodate changing times but cling to unchanging principles.”  She also told her students in that small country school that she felt sure that one of them would grow up to  become president.  I believe Miss Julia would be proud that her prophecy came true by someone who always remembered her words.

     When we arrived back at the huge, crowded  Atlanta airport and were sitting in the Food Court having a cup of coffee waiting to board our plane, we heard from down the massive terminal people clapping and cheering.  Like The Wave at a football game, the sounds came closer to us, and suddenly we saw that marching down the terminal toward the gates was a battalion of young (oh, so young) American soldiers proudly marching to their plane to be deployed.  We, too, rose to our feet and applauded with tears in our eyes, and we continued to do so until they were far out of our sight, but not out of our hearts and minds.

     Tomorrow I mail my letters about the 2006 Great Flag Caper.  I want this to be the best one yet.  After all, Miss Julia said we should cling to unchanging values.

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