County supports America

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2003

United States veterans and military families turned out in droves &045; Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Navy. They came to celebrate each other; they came to celebrate their families; they came to celebrate America.

They came with their signs, their photos, their flags &045; with tears in their eyes for what was lost in the past and for what might come in the future and with pride in their hearts for what they or their loved ones have done for America.

More than 250 local residents, including a number of current and former military, were on hand last week for a Stand Up for America rally held at the Pelham Civic Center.

The rally was sponsored by the Shelby County Legislative Delegation, and on hand from the delegation were Sens. Hank Erwin and Jabo Waggoner; and Reps. Jim Carns, Jimmy Martin and Mary Sue McClurkin.

Also on hand were Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes and County Commissioner Joel Bearden.

Special guests of the evening included Alabama State Auditor Beth Chapman, a resident of North Shelby County; former Miss Shelby County Haley Spates Mims; Maj. Gen. Mark Bowen, the Adjutant General of Alabama; and Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Chapman seemed the most inspiring of the evening. During her 10 minutes at the podium, there was thunderous applause and numerous standing ovations.

&uot;Tonight,&uot; she said, &uot;I say we should support the President of the United States and the U.S. military and tell the liberal, tree-hugging, hippy, Birkenstock-wearing, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and mind their own business.&uot;

She referred to those who have announced their intention to be human shields in Iraq.

&uot;The movie stars say they want to go to Iraq and serve as human shields for the Iraqis, I say let them buy a one-way ticket and go,&uot; Chapman said.

&uot;If they want to be human shields, I say let them shield the men and women of honesty and integrity who epitomize courage and embody the spirit of freedom by wearing the proud uniforms of the United States military. Those are the people who have earned and deserve shielding.

&uot;If you want to see true human shields, walk through Arlington Cemetery. There lie human shields, heroes and the brave Americans who didn’t get on television and talk about being human shields. They were human shields,&uot; she said.

The crowd jumped and cheered as Chapman ended: &uot;Let us be of one accord. Let us stand proud, and let us be the human shields of prayer, encouragement and support for the President, our troops, our families and our country.&uot;

Sen. Erwin said Chapman represented Shelby County well in Montgomery.

&uot;I feel good with her going into Montgomery next week for the start of the legislative session,&uot; he said.

Chief Justice Roy Moore agreed.

&uot;I’m very humbled to have to follow a great speaker like Mrs. Chapman,&uot; he said.

Judge Moore referred to Psalms 121:1-2 which reads, &uot;I will lift my eyes to the hills &045; from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.&uot;

&uot;That was true then, and it’s true today,&uot; he said.

The program began with Dave Mack and Mark Congleton of WDJC introducing Sen. Erwin.

Sen. Erwin expressed the reason for the rally.

&uot;We’re here to say we love our President. We love the USA and we support our military,&uot; he said.

Mayor Hayes agreed.

&uot;We have got to go and take care of this problem in the Middle East. We’ve got a military force that’s great. They’ll handle it,&uot; he assured the crowd.

Maj. Gen. Bowen said of Alabama’s active troops, &uot;They are modern-day patriots in the truest sense of the word.

&uot;They’re gonna do a great job. They’re fully trained and they’re ready to meet any contingency &045; anytime, anyplace, anywhere,&uot; he said.

Gen. Bowen recommended each member of the audience write, pray and always remember troops which have been activated from Alabama and across the nation.

&uot;We, as a state and nation, are all in this together &045; shoulder-to-shoulder, united as one with the mission of defending our nation and life as we know it,&uot; he said.

With the Lakeside Baptist Church choir and orchestra singing the hymns of each of the branches of the military, veterans and current service members were recognized by the crowd.

Also participating in the program were the Heritage Pipe and Drum Corps, the Pelham Fire Department Honor Guard and the Promisekeeper Choir and Band from Pelham First Baptist Church