“These are the times that try men’s souls.....”
These words by Thomas Paine so many years ago continue to echo true to this day. Although we are not today engaged in a fight for our nation’s independence from a foreign power or on the brink of possible military defeat as we were when Paine wrote these words over 200 years ago, we still, nevertheless, today face many obstacles as a nation and as a people that continue to “try our souls.”
With this being said, I would like to introduce myself to the weekly readers of the Daily Times Leader, or rather re-introduce myself to many of you in the West Point area and Clay County.
I am a long-time resident of Clay County, a graduate of Oak Hill Academy in West Point, and an alumnus of both Mississippi State University, where I received a bachelor’s degree in political science, and of the University of Mississippi School of Law. I was born in the city of West Point, and reared in the western part of our great county, amidst the rural farming community of the area where, as a youth, cotton and soybeans were still king.
My family, both immediate and distant, have deep ties to the land there, and to the politics of our county, and were always active in either serving politically themselves or in actively supporting others in political elections.
I was strongly influenced in my political beliefs by both my father, who never served himself but actively assisted others in getting elected in the county, and my grandfather, who did serve as Supervisor in District 5 for two terms, as his father had before him. Both were strong advocates for our community. Both were great defenders of the rights of the common man.
Both were patriots in the true sense of the word, as strong supporters of our community, our nation, our economy, our leaders, and our military.
They were farmers, and businessmen; they were hunters and survivors, and lovers of sports of all kind, all of which influenced me greatly. They instilled these traits in me, and taught me to care about those around me, to help those less fortunate, and to become active in government, policy-making, and politics, both in the front lines and behind the scenes.
They taught me that learning was for a lifetime, and emphasized the importance of education, of which I have been a part as either a student of learning or an educator and administrator all my life.
They also taught me the importance of being active in church, the importance of prayer and Scripture, and the importance in love for God, family, and country.
They instilled the desire in me to stand up for what is right and just, what is true and noble, and to protect our freedoms and liberties---those principles our nation was founded upon. And it is with that desire I begin today as a guest columnist and writer for the Daily Times Leader. I will write primarily articles each week on issues involving either politics, religion, or sports---the Big Three in our area of the country---and issues of great importance and relevance to our community, our county, our state, or our nation, that will have a far-reaching impact on us all.
From the flowing fields of our farms and heartlands, to the classrooms and playing fields of our communities’ schools----from the front steps of our city halls, to the front door of our nation’s capital----never have we seen such tumultuous and trying times in our communities, our state, and our nation.
From our struggling economy and our budget crises as a state and a nation, to the threat of attack by terrorists at both home and abroad; from the downturns and failures in our educational system as we once knew it, to global warming and the growing threat of natural disasters as never before seen---these are indeed some of those times, as Paine referenced, that “try men’s souls.” And just as Thomas Paine wrote over 200 years ago, these are times that are just as critical to our nation now, where we must make our voices heard and become involved politically to ensure that our freedoms, our liberties, and our rights, for which our forefathers fought and won our independence, remain.
When Paine wrote these words, our young nation was on the verge of defeat in our struggle against Great Britain.
These words became a rallying cry to our leaders, our troops, and our colonists---they inspired courage and a spirit of determination in our forefathers as never before, and mustered the momentum within them to snatch eventual victory from the jaws of defeat. And so, friends, colleagues, and neighbors---let these words also be a rallying cry to us now.
Venture with me in the days ahead as we take a stand for our rights, freedoms, and liberties----as we embark on a journey to speak out, to become involved, and to make our voices heard----as we strive to restore our nation to the proud heritage that we once knew.
Guest Columnist, Daily Times Leader
J.D., University of Mississippi
B.A. & B.S., Mississippi State University