November 14, 2017

Battle Blog: Veterans Week, Church, and South Alabama

It’s Monday night and I’m finally settling into my hotel room in Dothan after a fundraising event. What a whirlwind the last few days have been.

We celebrated Veterans Week in Huntsville, and that included a ceremony to induct new members into the Hall of Heroes – including Col. Mike Rose, who was presented a Medal of Honor last month some 47 years after his heroics on a mission in Vietnam.

We capped things off with a parade on Saturday, then I gave the keynote speech at a Veterans Day event at Hillwood Baptist Church on Saturday evening. The preacher and minister of music were both Alabama football fans and I said that we Alabama fans would at least get to see the second half of the game. They looked at me and said, “Well, that depends on how long you talk.” I kept it short and sweet, and was done by halftime!

On Sunday morning, I was speaking at my own church. It was Laity Sunday at Trinity United Methodist and I got to speak at the 8:15 and the 10 o’clock services. I had been at the pulpit before reading scripture lessons, but this was the first time I’ve gotten to speak directly to the church. I told them I’d been saving up for 50 years to deliver a sermon.

I talked about the basic rules of the Bible, about how you love your neighbor as yourself. I wanted to point out that all of us do mission work when we do things to make our community a better place, and we’re doing that for our neighbors. It was nice to talk about how much people give and give back.

Then we jumped in the car after lunch and headed to Mobile. The College Republicans at the University of South Alabama hosted a forum for gubernatorial candidates. There were a lot of college Republicans – and a lot of people like me, who were college Republicans a long time ago.

The current governor wasn’t there, but Sen. Bill Hightower and I were, and we had a good conversation about matters that affect the state and the gamut of challenges we have, and also the opportunities.

Most of today I’ve spent in Dothan. I attended the Rotary Club, where former Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz was the speaker, then stopped by International Beams, where they’re changing the face of the timber industry. They’ve created a new laminated wood product that’s taking timber and interweaving it and laminating it to make a product as strong as steel but lighter.

It’s just another example of the great innovations taking place in Alabama, taking advantage of our engineering and advanced-manufacturing skills, and why we need to continue to improve our education system, to create graduates who are career- and college-ready.

And, on the subject of education, I visited the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine. It’s a non-profit, private medical school that has just produced its first class of graduates. It’s the first school of its kind in the state.

Finally, our friend Alan Clark hosted a fundraiser at his home, with 50 or 60 people from the Dothan area, and we had a great meeting not only about the future of the Wiregrass area but the future of the whole state.

It’s been a great day. But now I think I’m ready to put my feet up and relax and make it an early night.

Until next week…