As I see it …

I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend as well as graduation week. It was my privilege to sit with the seniors at Bruce High School.

Memories of the graduations I conducted at Southaven High School came to mind, but the most important memory was my graduation from Bruce High School some time ago – well, to be exact, 49 years ago. At that time J.R. Newton was the principal and state auditor Boyd Golding was the speaker.

What a contrast this graduation was! There were no speeches except for the ones given by the valedictorian and salutatorian. Both of these young men did a superb job giving their short, but meaningful, speeches. The program was short, and the seniors were graduates of Bruce High in less than an hour.

As Memorial Day programs were held throughout America, I paused and was thankful for those sacrificed that we may live in a free country today. It was on a spring morning in 1866, after the Civil War had inflicted great damage to the South, that a group of Southerners did something that probably few expected.

They walked through the streets of what was left of the town to a cemetery. They decorated the graves of the soldiers buried there. They decorated all graves, Union as well as Confederate. The mothers and daughters had buried their dead, and then it was time to bury the hatred. It was time for healing to begin.

Memorial Day is celebrated in May not because it celebrates some important battle, but because flowers bloom in May and were used to decorate the graves. At that time, there were no silk flowers, so they had to depend on fresh, blooming flowers. At one time, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day.

I hope that during this Memorial Day we realized and realize that we owe a debt to others. We do not have what we have today because of only what we have done. There is no self-made man or self-made woman. We were in debt the moment we were born.

Some of that debt is to young men and women who gave up their lives on the battlefield. Some gave their life because they believed that freedom is worth dying for.

To honor their sacrifices is not to glorify war. But we still live in a cruel world where tyrants and terrorists would arbitrarily rule over others. It would be great if we could put down our weapons and know that every country in the world would play by the rules and would respect our territory and our way of life. However, we know this is not the case. We must keep our military strong, for we have no idea what may be in our future as a free people.

I hope you are about to settle into a nice warm summer, sitting back to watch the price of gasoline continue to soar. I would hesitate to travel too far, afraid I would not have enough money for gasoline to get back home.

I have heard a great number of people say the price of gasoline was relative to what we are accustomed to paying. Last Wednesday our guest at the Bruce Rotary Club was Jon Hildreth of New Zealand. Jon graduated from Bruce High School in 1977 as a Rotary Exchange student. After returning home he earned his agricultural engineering degree and now owns a 600-acre farm raising beef cattle, sheep and red deer.

In his address to members of Rotary Jon reminded us that we still had inexpensive gas, as the citizens of New Zealand are now paying over $8.50 per gallon. John invited any of us to visit him and his family whenever we wanted to. We would certainly have enough money for gasoline if we intended to rent a car. I am not sure I would be safe driving on the left side of the road.

While Jon and Bobby Logan, one of the families with whom Jon lived, were on their way to Oxford, Bobby reminded him that we drove on the right in the U.S.A. Had I been riding with him on highway 9W I would have reminded him also. I really enjoyed hearing Jon speak of his native country and look forward to his returning to Bruce.

In closing this week, I want to share with you what was shared with me on the Internet. I am unaware of the source of these little words of wisdom.

The e-mail was entitled “You Might be a Preacher IfÉ

n You’ve ever received an anonymous “U-Haul” gift certificate.

n People leave while you are talking.

n You’ve ever fantasized about re-baptizing a deacon.

n You get paid weakly.

n You might be a country preacher if you lock the car to keep out the squash.

n You go on vacation and when you return all the locks have been changed.

Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and an elder in the United Methodist Church. He is pastor of Shady Grove Church in Calhoun County and is president of the Calhoun County School Board. Contact him at

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