By Jana Adams
The Jackson Herald
December 5, 2001
Spreading Christmas cheer
I enjoyed a candlelight dinner in an atmosphere of holiday cheer early Saturday evening along with 140 or so other people in the fellowship hall of the Nicholson Congregational Holiness Church. Each year, the churchs womens mission group, better known as the WMs, serves a holiday feast to area senior citizens. While I am not a senior citizen, I was able to attend the dinner with my grandmother, joining in the festivities along with everyone else.
Think Thanksgiving times at least 10. The ladies of the WMs had quite a few tables lined up in the center of the room, all loaded with good food and decorated for the Christmas season. Thats not to mention the tables at the back of the room lined with tempting desserts.
Upon entering the fellowship hall, just about everyone oohed and aahhed over the decorations courtesy of the Rev. Howard Rhodes. Greenery embedded with twinkling white lights lined the walls at ceiling height, while an archway of greenery and brightly colored Christmas ornaments framed the doorway. Each table was adorned with greenery and tall candles, and a Christmas tree was set up near the fireplace. The candle lighting and the decorations really set the mood for a holiday dinner.
The WMs havent always held the senior citizens Christmas dinner, but they have a tradition of offering some comfort and kindness to the senior citizens that dates back quite a few years. Ann Gillespie, the WMs secretary of some 25 years, said she remembers when the group provided fruit baskets for the senior citizens instead.
But we decided to do a banquet so everybody could get together and have a good time, she said.
Although no one could remember exactly when the fruit baskets went by the wayside and the dinner tradition was started, Linda Rhodes said the WMs were already serving Christmas dinner when she and the Rev. Rhodes came to the church 16 years ago.
Saturdays banquet brought about 144 people to the church fellowship hall. The evening began with WMs president Sara Jo Whitehead offering a welcome and the Rev. Rhodes giving a blessing and greeting.
After dinner, it was time for gifts. Whitehead called out numbers and the person who had the corresponding number written on the back of his or her place mat had that particular gift delivered by an WM member.
Number 26 is back here! someone shouted, while another called out, 51 is over here!
Sweet 17, thats been a long time ago, one man laughed, and everyone applauded when the preacher won one of the grand prizes.
In the midst of waving hands, all the gifts were given out. At our table, a candle was exchanged for a bottle of mens cologne, a hand-painted Nativity scene was admired and candy was collected.
The evening ended with Whitehead wishing everyone a happy holiday season one of my favorites of the year and with everyone mingling together for a last few minutes of catching up.
All in all, it was a nice way to start the Christmas season.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Jackson Herald
December 5, 2001
Chose one: Uncle Sam or Osama
Lets get one thing straight right up front. If you are obsessed with privacy, freedom and civil liberties, get over it. Youll never be as free as you were before September 11.
If your desire to be protected from a little government interference is greater than your desire to be protected from terrorism, youve got a problem.
I dont often agree with Mona Charen, but I did last Wednesday. She said in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, A too-nice preoccupation with civil rights risks all of our liberties and our lives.
I have no idea where Im going with this. I think I have a very important question to ask everyone near the end. Bear with me.
But first, the war on terrorism will continueindefinitely.
Three weeks ago, I called attention to our need for patience, forbearance and fortitude. It didnt do any good.
I was going to follow up with a plea for vigilance and diligence, but decided that wouldnt do any good, either.
But we must keep trying. Political analyst Dick Morris hit the nail on the head when he said, Terror is like cancer. If we do not destroy it everywhere, we have not destroyed it anywhere.
This phase of the war is less than three months old, but impatience has overtaken patience and is gaining on forbearance and fortitude.
So let us hurry along.
Psychiatrist Carl Jung once remarked, Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.
In war and in peace, instant gratification is not an option. That certainly is true of the war on terrorism.
President Bush said from the start that this would be a long haul. My hero, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, noted recently that smoke from the World Trade Center ruins is still rising. Yet there are those out there who want the war overright now.
Lets see if we can put this in perspective and slow those hawks down a bit.
After Pearl Harbor, eight months passed before the United States invaded Guadalcanal and began land operations against Japan. We bombed Japan for more than three years before the Japanese surrendered.
Allied forces bombed Germany for five years before the Germans gave up.
British and American troops landed in France two and a half years after Adolf Hitler declared war on us.
In the Persian Gulf War, the bombs didnt fly until six months after Iraq invaded Kuwait.
The Cold War lasted 50 years before it was finally over.
Still want to win the war on terrorismright now? Consider this:
It took Americas finestwhat, 17 years?to track down Theodore Kaczynski. You remember Theodore Kaczynski; he was the Unabomber.
We havent found Eric Rudolph yet. And as I write this on November 28, we havent found Osama bin Laden.
I have it on good authority that Eric, Osama and Elvis are holed up in a cave near Plum Nelly on the Georgia-Tennessee border practicing for the next Ed Sullivan show.
Ridiculous? Yes. But not as ridiculousor as seriousas those who want to appease the enemy and end the warright now. End and win are not synonymous.
Even more ridiculousand seriousare those American patriots who hate their government so much that they have sided with the enemy. They claim to love their country, but within minutes of the September 11 attack, they were congratulating the attackers and celebrating the tragedy.
A damned good start!!!! said one Internet message.
Anyone who is willing to drive an airplane into a building to kill jews (sic) is alright by me, said another.
And a third: What is wrong with just accepting the fact that a handful of very brave people were willing to die for whatever they believed in and did it?
Why there are individuals and groups in America who hate this great, compassionate, generous country is beyond me. Some of these hate mongers claim the U.S. government initiated the September 11 attacks so it could impose martial law. Similar claims were made in 1995 when Timothy McVey, another American patriot, bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 innocent people. (Please note that I put quotation marks around patriot.)
Look, I enjoy my privacy, freedoms and civil liberties as much as anybody. But if giving up a few of them will help the war on terrorism, lets roll. The American patriots (no quotation marks this time) who jumped the terrorists and caused that plane to crash in Pennsylvania gave up all of theirs.
Im not interested in giving any of my freedoms to the Missouri Militia, the neo-Nazi National Alliance, the American Nazi Party, Aryan Nations or any other hate group. Im afraid theyd want all of em.
So whats an American patriot to do?
I believe I said Id ask an important question near the end of this epistle. This is the end, and this is the question. I believe all of us should seriously consider the answer.
As the war on terrorism continues, will we be better off to surrender some of our freedoms to Uncle Sam and John Ashcroft, or all of our freedoms to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden?
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.