We like our heroes to be larger than life, able to leap tall buildings and save the day. But a heroic figure who stepped off an ASA plane at Bush Field Tuesday morning walked into the terminal just like you and me: hat and ticket in one hand, suitcase in the other.
Capt. Bobby Christine was just one of many passengers aboard that flight, but unlike the rest of the air commuters, he had a cheering, lump-throated group waving signs and giving him a well-deserved heros welcome.
Yeah, I know; we also like our heroes to shed blood or run out of burning buildings with a rescued child in their arms, endangering themselves for our safety. A dad who is grinning and crying at the same time, holding his 11-month-old child in his camo-clad arms, may not fit our image of a post 9-11 hero.
That 11-month-old boy, though, was just a few weeks old when dad answered the call of his country, boarded a plane and flew to Kuwait. His two little girls and his wife also stayed behind while Christine served in Iraq with the 265th Engineer Group of the Georgia National Guard.
And good God, it will hurt on Christmas day when Capt. Christine has to put down that baby boy, to hug his wife and daughters, to board that plane again and fly back to the uncivilized cradle of civilization, to a place most civilized Americans couldnt find on an unlabeled map of the world.
Christine, and soldiers like him, willingly leaves his family so the rest of us can stay with our own wives and kids, living in peace and quiet and comfort and geographically ignorant bliss.
More to the point, Capt. Christine leaves his wife and three kids so I dont have to leave my wife and three kids. His presence over there will help keep us safe over here.
That sounds an awful lot like a hero to me.
It was inevitable that, with a Republican administration in the Georgia governors office, the folks in appointed positions would gradually start to trend more toward, well, Republicans.
The local position most closely watched has been that of Department of Trans-portation Board member Jimmy Lester. Augusta attorney Lester is a Democratic appointee. so his days of service were numbered.
That also means Repub-licans are keeping a keen eye on his replacement.
The two likely candidates are retiring Augusta Com-missioner Bill Kuhlke, and Columbia County Develop-ment Authority Chairman Bill Coleman. Augusta politicians want Kuhlke; their Columbia County counterparts want Coleman.
Either man would make a fine commissioner. Kuhlke has been one of the few bright spots on the Augusta Commission. Coleman has long served on the Develop-ment Authority and other boards, and is an active behind-the-scenes political mover.
Whomever is chosen, Lesters replacement will have big shoes to fill. Hes been a good, fair commissioner, and certainly has given plenty of help when Columbia Countys transportation needs required it. But he has one fault he cant overcome: Hes a Democrat.
Columbia County school officials are keeping the four-day (plus the weekend) fall break in the calendar for the next two years.
The decision was based in part on a poll from the countys Web site, which was far too complicated. It required the user to download the three options, navigate through confusing color-keyed calendars, and then go to a separate Web page to vote. Even then, the four-day break got just 51 percent in favor, while votes for a shorter break totaled 49 percent.
No word this time on which option the non-school employees preferred. In any event, its a done deal for the next two years. So get ready for school to start Aug. 3, 2004.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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