By Joel Hall
In Clayton County, the good deeds of many individuals sometimes go unnoticed.
At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Delta Honor Guard ensures that the remains of local soldiers killed in battle return to Georgia with the utmost respect and dignity.
In Jonesboro, Keep Clayton County Beautiful, Inc., teaches children to respect their streams and rivers, helps people recycle their hazardous waste, and encourages citizens to keep their yards tidy.
In Morrow, the Morrow High School Air Force JROTC program teaches discipline and honor to local youths, and prepares them for future leadership roles.
Because so many good efforts often go unnoticed, state Sen. Gail Buckner (D-Morrow) honored several groups and individuals, during a Citizens Recognition program, on Thursday, at Morrow First United Methodist Church.
The first-time program recognized volunteer groups, representatives of state and local agencies, and individuals who have made significant contributions to Clayton County. Each individual, or group, was presented with a Senate resolution that eventually will be read into the record books, eternally recognizing their contributions.
Buckner said she has drafted Senate resolutions for a number of individuals, but never in a group setting. She said the program helps recognize individuals who have "all made major contributions to the community."
"Each person and group recognized tonight has such an extensive record of lifetime achievement," said Buckner, a 2010 candidate for secretary of state, whose Democratic rivals include Darryl Hicks, Gary Horlacher, Michael Mills, and Angela Moore. There are also several Republican candidates for secretary of state.
"A small piece of paper ... this resolution ... will just barely scratch the surface of the thank-yous we deserve to give these folks. They have made Clayton County, and the state of Georgia, a better place."
Among those honored were: The Delta Honor Guard, a group of Delta Air Lines employees who volunteer to welcome home soldiers killed in battle; Lt. Col. Charley James, Technical Sgt. Charles Thomison, and Master Sgt. Sandi Williams of the Morrow High School Air Force JROTC program; Eddie White, a 35-year educator and administrator in Clayton County Public Schools, as well as a former member of the Clayton County Board of Education; Keep Clayton County Beautiful, Inc., and its director, Edie Yongue; Charley English, a Clayton State University alumnus, former Clayton County police officer, and current director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency; and Lucy C. Huie, whose Help Our Public Education organization fought for civil rights, and the desegregation of the Clayton County school system.
James, senior aerospace science instructor at Morrow High School and head of the school's Air Force JROTC program, said he and his colleagues "love what we do," and that Thursday's program and Senate resolution are "icing on the cake."
"Working with students keeps you thinking young," James said. "We learn as much from our students as they learn from us. It's challenging, sometimes, but it's extremely rewarding seeing their potential and being part of the process of bringing that potential out."
English, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency director, said the program is evidence of the "giving people" in Clayton County. "There are a lot of great mentors in Clayton County, who teach young people ... You don't just go to work and go home, you pour your heart into people," he said. "You see that time and time again in this community."
Buckner said that after the 2010 legislative session, the Senate resolutions will be viewable at the Georgia Archives in Morrow.