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OPINION PAGE - NOVEMBER 24, 1999 - HOMER, GA

Editorial
The Banks County News
November 24, 1999

Every day should be a time to give thanks
In 1863, president Abraham Lincoln called on his fellow Americans to take time to thank God for their blessings. He even set aside the day that it was to be done.
The president lamented that people had forgotten God and what He had done for them. In the proclamation calling for a day of thanks, Lincoln declared:
"We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, that we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
These words are as true today as they were in 1863. People take their blessings for granted. They expect to receive and seldom give. Abraham Lincoln had the right idea. A time of thanksgiving was needed then and it is needed now. But instead of just one day, every day should be a day of thanksgiving.
Lincoln ended his proclamation calling for his fellow citizens to join together in giving thanks for their blessings on the last Thursday of November of each year. We ask our countians to take time every day to give thanks for their blessings.

Column
By Sherry Lewis
The Banks County News
November 24, 1999

Job brings many
friends in my life
The Thanksgiving season gives us an opportunity to look back on the things in life that make us happy and thankful. This November is also my seventh anniversary with The Banks County News and I have thought back over my experiences during that time.
Unquestionably, the best part about my job is meeting the people that I now call friends. Almost everywhere I go, I see people that I would have probably never met if I didn't have this job. There are also people that I work with regularly in the courthouse, city halls, chamber office and other places who help make my job easier. I also consider many of those people my friends.
One of my first tasks with the paper was to do feature stories on people over 90 years of age or those who had been married for more than 50 years. I've always taken a liking to senior citizens, so I definitely made some friends.
I remember driving over to the Banks County senior center for my first encounter with Annie Belle Forrester, who had recently turned 95. We sat on the back steps of the senior center and I still remember the red suit she was wearing the day I did the interview. We didn't talk about anything earth-shattering, but she made interviewing easy. Over the years, she has welcomed me into her home many times. At 102, she is now a resident of Scenic View Nursing Home and I still consider her a friend.
I also have fond memories of the late Buster Garrison. When we first met, I could tell he was just a little skeptical of the media, like most people, but we soon became friends. I remember a night in December when he was sick and was unable to make the council meeting. I saw his wife, Syble, pull up to the town hall when she quickly opened the door to tell me that Buster wanted to be sure I was invited to the Christmas dinner with the council.
The council had been kind enough to invite me and I appreciated the fact that he remembered.
That next April, just before the egg hunt, he was basically bed-ridden, but he wanted me to come by and talk about the upcoming egg hunt. As he lay there, I saw a twinkle in his eye when he talked about the family tradition. I applaud his family for keeping it alive because he loved it so much.
Working for the paper has not been all good times - I've seen so many people in pain. One of the most emotionally wrenching stories I have ever been a part of is the arson at New Salem United Methodist Church which took the life of Captain Loy Williams. To sit in a room with firefighters the afternoon after the fire and see the look on their faces and hear the comments and the cries, is something that I will never forget. I attended the church service in the fellowship hall the Sunday after the fire and watched members as they tried to come to grips with the tragedy.
As for the Williams family, I can't fathom what this past year has meant for them. I've seen them several times but last week was the first time I'd ever called Gertrude Williams, Loy's mother. I guess I was close to tears just talking to her. I just wanted to do something but there was nothing I could do. Again, without my job, I would have probably never spoken to her, and I'm glad I had the opportunity.
I have also covered a few court cases and, for some reason, I enjoy it. Maybe I should have been an investigator or a lawyer. I'm an advocate of people facing the consequences for their crimes but my heart sometimes aches for their families.
One thing for sure is there is never a dull moment in this job. Sometimes meetings and deadlines drive me crazy, but it's nice to wait on the news to happen. It's also nice to realize I've made so many friends.
Sherry Lewis is news editor of The Banks County News.


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