My true heroes

Published 7:33 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2010

During the last two weeks, I had the pleasure of watching a couple of Bainbridge High Lady Cats and Bearcats basketball games with two of my favorite people, Mr. Clifford Wells and Mr. Bob Jones of Climax.

Mr. Clifford, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday and is a World War II veteran, and his dear wife, Mrs. Fannie, and Mr. Bob and his dear wife, Mrs. Marge, are four of my favorite people.

Mr., Clifford shared some stories with me about the girls teams he coached at old Climax High School, and Mr. Bob, who is originally from Illinois, congratulated Lady Cats All-Star performer Alexis Burke, who will be playing for the University of Illinois Illini next season, after the game and shared with her a few things about the state.

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Also sitting with us one of those nights was my dear friend, Billy Simmons Jr., whose father, the late Billy Simmons Sr., like Mr. Clifford, was a true war hero, having served as a Green Beret with the 82nd Airborne Division in the Vietnam War.

Billy has often shared with me memories of his late dad and what a great man and hero he was. He described him, not only as his dad and hero, but also as his best friend.

Billy, known throughout Bainbridge and Decatur County as the No. 1 Bainbridge High School Bearcats and Lady Cats sports fan, is an inspiration to everyone he meets. He was inspired by his late hero father and now he is inspiring others.

Billy, who has a disability and is a great advocate for the disabled, has told me many times that if he was not disabled he would have joined the Army and followed in his dad’s footsteps.

Monday was Billy’s dad’s birthday and he asked me and others to say a prayer in his memory and we were happy to do so. He had to be a high character person to raise such a high character son like Billy.

Billy, I know Monday was a tough day for you old buddy, but you can take pride and consolation in knowing your dad was a true American hero and you are loved and respected throughout Bainbridge and Decatur County.

Mr. Clifford, Billy’s late dad and countless veterans of all wars are all my heroes. Their sacrifices are the reason we enjoy the many freedoms we have in this country today.

I’m as big a sports fan as anyone, but sports stars are not heroes. Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of good people in sports who do a lot of charity work and inspire young people.

Dedicated military heroes like Mr. Clifford and Billy’s late dad, those who are currently helping the earthquake victims in Haiti and the firefighters and law enforcement officers who risked and lost their lives on 9-11 are the true heroes.

Whenever we see a veteran or a person serving in the military service today we should walk up to them, shake their hands, and say thank you for working every day to keep our country safe. It is the least we can do.