Just how cool is it that Maj. Gen. Janet Hicks is going to become head of Augusta Prep's Upper School after retirement?
It's a really big deal for Columbia County. Not only are we privileged to have the general living in our county, but she'll continue to contribute to our community in retirement by helping build other future leaders at Prep. Hicks has another strong tie to our community, too:
Every year, the commanding general of Fort Gordon has been a featured speaker at the Columbia County Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration on Memorial Day weekend. Hicks has performed that task for the past two years since returning to Fort Gordon as commander, and is penciled in to return this year for the May 28 event in Evans.
Far too often, great people get promoted out of our community or find jobs that take them elsewhere, onward and upward. It's nice to know Hicks will be able to stick around.
There's been a question mark this year about the appearance of another VIP who has been a featured speaker at every previous Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration: U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood.
Norwood continues to recuperate from a lung transplant six months ago, the result of a long fight with pulmonary fibrosis. He's still tethered by tube to an oxygen tank. But his staff has made sure to emphasize that he's working hard, in spite of his current limitations that keep him from visiting his district.
Remember: Norwood had to stay near the hospital in Fairfax, Va., while awaiting the transplant, and was unable to campaign for re-election. After an easy win, he was unable to come home for a victory tour, either. And now we're wondering if he'll be well enough to speak at Red, White and Blue May 28.
His staff now says he will. John Stone, Norwood's spokesman, told me Thursday, "I'm sure he'll be there before then. He'll be there in the next few weeks."
That includes Memorial Day, unless there's a scheduling conflict. I'm crossing my fingers; the Veterans Celebration just wouldn't be the same without Charlie, himself a Vietnam War veteran.
Another Charlie who isn't crossing his fingers, I bet, is Charlie Johnston. According to a press release sent to me the other day, the Florida minister has written a book called No Such Thing as Luck -- a Biblical Perspective. Available at www.johnstonpublications.com, the book is touted as the result of years of Biblical research debunking the existence of luck.
Its release is being timed to St. Patrick's Day, when Johnston says he's "tired of hearing about 'the luck of the Irish.'" I haven't seen or read the book, but its concept brought to mind a comment a friend made a while back. She'd talked over lunch about changes in her workplace, and after lunch I'd said "Good luck." She responded tartly, "I don't believe in luck."
Well, I do, if by luck you mean mathematical probability. There are a great many people, religious folk especially, who believe everything is pre-ordained; everything we do simply follows a prescribed, divine plan. I say such a concept belittles God by telling Him He didn't know what He was doing when He gave human beings free will and the ability to make choices. As long as we are really free to make decisions for good or ill, we will continue to take the chance that those choices will lead to good or ill results.
Likewise, though, it seems pretty sacrilegious for people to trust more in good-luck charms than in their own faith. Maybe that's what Johnston is trying to say, and if so, I'm with him to that extent. Whatever the case, I wish him lots of luck in selling his book to a world that is more likely to spend its money on lottery tickets.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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