I have been familiar with the traditional endeavor to light Mason Park for the Christmas Season for several years, although not involved as regularly as I would like to have been. While still below the average collective age of recent volunteer groups, I am not as far behind as I once was.
When I was informed, several weeks ago, that the traditional lighting endeavor would not be taking place, I was, like many others, disappointed. Not only to realize that the spectacle of decorations would not be presented, but also hard-hit by the fact that so many of the core group are actually “getting on up there” in years. Reality can be a harsh pill to swallow.
When I first heard of the explosion of social media discussion regarding the news of a dark Mason Park and the dozens of offers of help with the project, I admit that I was skeptical. I have found human nature to often be less than reliable when it comes to making offers to help somebody else. Needless to say, recent conversations with my old friend Tim Tillery were mostly negative in tone, although seasoned lightly with a glimmer of hope. I had already promised to help with a very limited display consisting of the traditional Nativity Scene and maybe a star or two. And I have to admit that curiosity as to just how many new volunteers would show up added a degree of anticipation as Saturday morning approached.
In opening I mentioned the “Magic of Christmas.” To me, there has always been something magical about the Mason Park display. The feeling was multiplied significantly after I began to take part in the decorating festivities. It had occurred to me over the past few weeks that, although the overall display has a magical feel after the sun goes down, the task of getting it all set up and ready consists of a lot more than simple magic. I am sincerely happy to report that the outpouring of new volunteers that I saw upon arriving at the park was almost overwhelming. This was truly a community coming together to keep a beloved tradition alive, even if it is a smaller scale display than in the past. I would estimate that the average age of this year’s volunteer group would be well under 30, even factoring in a significant number of individuals who qualify for AARP membership. The Hallmark Channel couldn’t do a better job of portraying the “Magic of Home Town Christmas.”
I extend a heart-felt “Thank You” to the Laurel Leader-Call and WDAM for bringing some positive attention to what was just about to be a serious let-down for a lot of people in the Pine Belt. And to all the the new volunteers who followed through on their pledge to get involved, I believe you will view this year’s display (scaled down though it may be) from a whole new perspective and a sense of pride when the park lights up again December 1.
I knew a hero
I grew up with a hero. He raised me. My dad. With seven years of college he hit the beaches of Okinawa.
He joined when asked, as a professor at LSU. From the Math department to hell and back again.
My grandmother told me I wish you could have known your Daddy before he went to war. At the time I did not know what she meant. But now I understand. I’m just proud he was my Daddy.
F. Handel Craft
‘A day which will live in infamy’
December 7, 1941 — the attack on Pearl Harbor — was a day that has remained in infamy. Very few servicemembers who personally remember that day are still among us. The American Legion Auxiliary encourages everyone to do what they can to keep Pearl Harbor a part of our national consciousness.
Many brave servicemembers were asleep or going about their morning routines when the Japanese bombers delivered a blow that would seal America’s involvement in World War II. More than 2,400 servicemembers died during the attack.
I invite you, along with the members of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Mississippi, to take a moment and remember the men and women who lost their lives that fateful day.
Founded in 1919, the American Legion Auxiliary helps to advance the mission of The American Legion. With nearly three-quarters of a million members, it is the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization and one of the nation’s most prominent supporters of veterans, military, and their families. ALA members volunteer millions of hours annually, with a value averaging $2 billion each year. From helping to draft the GI Bill in 1944 to advocating for veterans on Capitol Hill, The American Legion Family has been instrumental in advancing legislation that improves the quality of life for our nation’s veterans. To learn more and get involved, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org.
American Legion Auxiliary Department of Mississippi