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To Honor Our Nation, Our Flag, and Our Heroes. Photo by Linda Baggett

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 was vastly different than Tuesday, September 11, 2001. But these days – as with all future September 11th – will always be connected in spirit. It is in this spirit that the citizens of Big Sandy came together to recognize and honor our local heroes. This is the 16th such gathering, inspired by the events of September 11, 2001. Pastor Jerome Ellard and Mayor Sonny Parsons welcomed one hundred fifty guests to New Beginnings Christian Fellowship. After the invocation by Pastor Ellard and his wife, Helen, Frontier Girls and Boys Troop 109 presented the Stars and Stripes. George and Ruth Ann Eaton led the group in our Pledge of Allegiance and George Strub led “God Bless America.”

All Veterans were recognized and thanked for their service. Several videos produced by Mayor Parsons and Derrick Menefee highlighted the Big Sandy Police Department, Volunteer Fire Department, City Hall and Public Works staff members, City Council, Municipal Development District, and the new Heritage Center. Also noted were Big Sandy ISD, Ministerial Alliance and Agape House, and International ALERT Academy. Civic organizations included the Big Sandy Area Lions Club, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, and the Love Big Sandy Project.

Pastor Jerome Ellard presents the “New Beginnings Award for Christian Service to the Community” to Chris Overby for the International ALERT Academy. Photo by Linda Baggett

Each year, local heroes are honored. The New Beginnings Award for Christian Service to the Community was presented to the International ALERT Academy by Pastor Jerome Ellard. Chris Overby accepted on behalf of the Academy. ALERT (Air Land Emergency Resource Team) is a Christian discipleship and service program that trains young men to meet needs in times of crisis. (from their website). They have assisted in search, rescue, and recovery following hurricanes, tornados, floods, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

Patti Rozell receives the “Charles Penney and Odis Hammock Education Service Recognition” from Mrs. Norma Penney. Photo by Linda Baggett

The Charles Penney and Odis Hammock Education Service Recognition – named for BSISD Superintendent Charles Penney and High School Principal Odis Hammock – was presented to Patti Rozell by Mrs. Norma Penney. Patti served as home economics teacher for many years and finished her teaching career as Elementary Librarian. Patti was also a beloved mentor to many young people. Patti is pianist at First United Methodist Church and, according to Pat Hetzel (Pastor Hetzel’s wife), Patti can preach a good sermon! Patti is known for her enthusiasm and love of life. A well-deserved honor!

The final recognition of the evening was the James DeCuir Volunteer Fire Department and Law Enforcement Special Honorees named for James DeCuir, who was both Fire Chief and Police Chief. James, who passed earlier this year, and his family – wife Monica, and sons Chad and Bradlee – have served Big Sandy for many years. This year the recipient was the Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Department. Accepting the plaque from Bradlee, Chad, and grandson, Hayden was Fire Chief Jeff Jones. (Readers will note there is no picture of this presentation. It was such an emotional moment that a picture would have been too intrusive. The Journal has asked for a group picture and will publish as soon as possible.)

The evening concluded with a video of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” Organizers wish to thank all who brought food for the evening meal. A special thanks to the Big Sandy Area Lions Club members who worked in the kitchen, served, and cleaned. Thank you all and God Bless.