Baldwin County, My Home

I’ve been wanting to do some sort of series to highlight areas that have a special importance to me, or to where I enjoy traveling. Since I’m not really able to travel at the moment, I figured this would be as good of a time as any.

I can’t say Milledgeville is my hometown. But, I do call it the nearest civilization to where I grew up. It was the closest Wal-Mart, Shoney’s, and McDonald’s. As a child of the late 1980s, that was what was important then. As I grew, it became so much more to me. It grew to trips to the library, my first job, starting college, graduating and beginning the next degree, my first professional job, meeting my wife, my wedding, and starting our home together.

Unlike most of the counties around us, Baldwin only has one city – Milledgeville. But that is not our biggest claim to fame. We are a designed capitol city and was the seat of state government from 1804 until 1868 when it moved to Atlanta. The two main governmental buildings remain, along with many antebellum homes and historic sites.

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News History: “GMC Radio Club wants to Grow”

Payton Towns III/ The Union-Recorder Daniel Simpson, president of the Georgia Military College AMateur Radio Club, talks into the transmitter of his radio. The club is sending radiograms to people across the country to draw interest for the club.
Payton Towns III/ The Union-Recorder
Daniel Simpson, president of the Georgia Military College Amateur Radio Club, talks into the transmitter of his radio. The club is sending radiograms to people across the country to draw interest for the club.

I was going through some old files today and came across this image. It reminded me of the story with which it was published, and decided to spend my lunch break today in the Georgia College Library going through Microfilm to see if I could find it. It took me a while, but I was eventually successful. You can either view a PDF of the clipping here, or see my transcription of the text below the fold. 

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Remarks to the Fall 2010 GMC Honors Assembly

Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed an honor to be here today as we celebrate academic achievement and excellence. I am proud to say I have once sat where you are now. However, I’m not quite so proud to say there have been times as I continued in my academic career when I was not eligible for academic honors you now enjoy. To that end, keep up the good work and maintain your standard of excellence.

The character of Sam Seaborne in the television series “The West Wing” once said, “Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything.”[1] Indeed, increased education leads to increased employability, increased lifetime earnings, and increased job security. Education benefits not only the individual, but society as a whole. An educated citizenry is more likely to participate in the political process, an idea which is very near and dear to my heart, and an educated workforce also increases economic development opportunities for a given area, which leads to more and higher paying jobs.

There are many places which offer an education. It is easy to offer classroom lectures and to assign textbooks, but there are very few places which offer such a complete education as Georgia Military College. The prep school boasts of “developing the intellect and elevating the character,” but this applies not only to the prep school, but also the entire institution. Life is more than possessing the ability to recite answers on an examination. A complete education requires both intellect and character, and both are well grounded in the history and the traditions of GMC.

Wherever we might turn on this campus, we are reminded of core values of “Duty, Honor, and Country” and to keep “Character above All.”[2] We are supported by a proud tradition of those who have gone before us. A few weeks ago, alumni from the last 75 years gathered to celebrate that tradition of which you now hold a part. They spoke of stories of times gone by. They remembered those who had walked with them and whose journey had been completed. The campus has changed since they walked these halls and stood formation on these grounds; the campus has even changed since my days as a student here. Yet, though the physical attributes of campus may change, the traditions do not. You are the heirs to their legacy as you continue your studies, graduate, and then venture out into the world.

The journey which you have undertaken is not an easy one, and yet, you have excelled. The journey which is before you will likewise not be easy. The words of one of my former professors, who was famous for his difficult exams, upon returning the first test in the class, which is typically the lowest grade, most certainly applies.

“Things will get harder. The further we go, the more you have to consider. You must learn more quickly than the difficulty increases.”[3]

You have set the standard for yourself. You have shown your capacity for excellence. Continue to follow that standard.

We are the children of the same traditions. We are the family of Georgia Military College. And now, as we continue on our journeys, I leave you with a paraphrase of the Charge to the Brigade from the epic film, Gods and Generals.[4] I trust when I shall hear your names in the future it will be of more noble deeds accomplished, victories won, and even greater excellence proven. Remember on your journey, “Character above all.” For when we from these halls have parted and life’s battles won, the great spirit of GMC shall inspire us ‘til eternal dawn.[5]

Thank you.

References:
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[1] Sorkin, Aaron. The West Wing: Six Meetings Before Lunch. Directed by Clark Johnson. Performed by Rob Lowe. 1999.

[2] Georgia Military College. (n.d.). Character education program. Retrieved from http://www.gmc.cc.ga.us/page.php?page_id=205

[3] Mabie, J. Class Lecture, Quantitative Techniques, Georgia College & State University, October 1, 2008

[4] Maxwell, R (Director). (2003). Gods and Generals [Film]. Atlanta: Turner Pictures

[5] Georgia Military College. (n.d.). Alma mater & cadet prayer. Retrieved from http://cadet.gmc.cc.ga.us/page.php?page_id=560

We are the Heirs of that First Revolution

At the dawn of this day, I knew it would be a long one. I had to docent a class that is nowhere near my field (The History and Sociology of the American Woman…). I had to lead a freshman study group (an absolute terror to any graduate assistant). Today was the day that the much debated Student Wellness and Recreation Center finally would come to a vote before the Senate of the Student Government Association. Then, I found out a motorcade was going to be rolling through downtown.

This was no typical motorcade. This was to honor an individual who, though I never met him, would have been offended if you called him sir. “Don’t call me sir; I work for a living,” would have likely been his response. He was the father of three kids, worked for the Bibb County sheriff’s office, and was a staff sergeant in the Army National Guard. He was also killed in action outside Khost, Afghanistan on September 30th by a roadside IED.

The Senate Session, the most important and intense of the year (and quite possibly the most important since I have been involved with GCSU Student Government) paled in comparison to what was happening outside in the street. As the sirens approached in the distance, the business of wellness centers and increased fees didn’t seem quite as important. The senate recessed so its members and observers could join the crowd gathered on the sidewalk to pay their respects as a hero passed by. On any other day, this would have been the most notable event. But this was not any other day.

Later on in the evening, I led a study session for Politics and Society, my school’s freshman American government course which is required of all students. After the session was over, a student came up to me. He was an international student from Iraq. He didn’t know about the motorcade; he’d been studying for the upcoming exam. What he didn’t understand was why students had not participated more in the decision about the wellness center. Out of six thousand students, less than 100 attended the meetings.

He told me how if you had expressed opposition in Iraq, even about something as minor as a student fee, you were risking your life. He told me of family members who had lost their lives. He told me of the betrayal of friends who had join the insurgency. Then, he talked to me about how much he loved being in this country. He spoke of how he couldn’t understand how Americans did not take advantage of the freedoms to which they had become accustomed and apathetic. He understood how valuable and precious the freedoms are that are largely ignored by people who have lived under those freedoms their entire lives.

In spite of the snide comments of some of the scumbags in the crowd, who didn’t understand why we were honoring someone who killed for a living, the mass of people who lined the streets understood a fact so profound that many can no longer comprehend it. SSgt French understood it. A young international student understood it. Freedom is precious. Bringing freedom to the far corners of the world “forgotten by all but the war lords” is worth sacrifice. America, even with all of its problems, is still the greatest nation in the world. “People want a better life, and they want it here.” But, what about freedom everywhere? Why can’t that be our goal?

Yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God. We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
~ President John Kennedy