Georgia editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Valdosta Daily Times on volunteerism:
April is recognized nationally as Volunteer Month, but every day could be called volunteer day here in South Georgia.
Volunteerism can define a community. The people of our region are known for their generosity.
There are thousands of people throughout our readership area who make real and lasting differences in the lives of others through volunteerism.
There are so many ways to volunteer your time and talent to help others and to improve the community.
Whether it is serving meals to those in need, visiting the shut-in, mentoring a young person, picking up litter, participating in a neighborhood watch program, reading to a classroom, coaching a youth sports team or taking part in a food drive, there are ways for nearly everyone to be of service.
It has been said the truest measure of a society is how it cares for its least fortunate.
There is an old saying that those who can do, do. Those who can do more volunteer.
Erma Bombeck expressed it this way: “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience and just plain loving one another.”
While charitable donations are needed, sometimes the best contribution we can make is to donate ourselves.
Giving our time can often mean as much, and even more, than giving our dollars.
Kahlil Gibran said, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
Whether through our respective churches, other nonprofit organizations, or simply helping a family or individual, there are numerous ways to lend a helping hand.
In Valdosta and Lowndes County, there are many individuals, churches and organizations that have made a tradition of volunteering with various organizations and nonprofits.
But it seems there are never enough volunteers to serve all the community needs that exist.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. ... You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Look for your opportunities to volunteer your time and resources throughout our region.
You need look no farther than your own civic club, church or favorite charity.
Thank all of you who unselfishly give your time, talent and resources to help others.
The Savannah Morning News on moving monuments.
Forsyth Park is city property, as is everything in it, from the fountain to the bandshell and the playgrounds to the tennis courts.
City workers keep Forysth clean. They cut the grass, repair equipment and patch cracks and holes.
Yet they are prohibited from making one improvement to the beautiful greenspace. Under the state’s monuments law, the city can’t remove or relocate the bronze busts of two Confederate military officers from the memorial at the park’s center.
Savannah City Council voted to move the statuary to those leaders’ final resting place, Laurel Grove Cemetery, more than a year ago. The decision was made in the wake of Confederate monument removals nationwide and followed a recommendation made by a task force composed of preservationists, historians and administrators of local monument and marker programs.
Many, including this editorial board, hoped the Georgia General Assembly would remove that restriction this legislative session and return regulatory control back to local municipalities. Instead, the state strengthened the law under the guise of protecting the monuments from vandalism. The revised law requires local governments seeking to move these memorials to place them in sites “of similar prominence.”
Laurel Grove is high profile, but it’s no Forsyth Park.
The monument protection measure passed the legislature Friday. The bill now moves to Gov. Brian Kemp to sign into law.
Kemp has 40 days to put pen to paper, and in doing so all but ensuring the busts will stay put.
The situation exasperates local leaders. Asked what he could do to influence the monument debate, Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach put it bluntly. “We can’t do anything other than complain,” he said. “For some reason they don’t think we can run our town or county or what have you.”
The state’s insistence on butting in on local matters is puzzling.
There are instances where the legislature is justified in stepping in and insisting on involvement, such as the funding for the Savannah Convention Center expansion and shoreline protection standards. Unlike with those measures, the state has no investment to protect by endorsing legislation on matters such as local monuments.
Proponents also seem ignorant of the optics. Few, if any, Georgia municipalities are pushing to remove or relocate monuments to veterans of the American Revolution, the world wars or the Civil Rights movement.
The memorials at issue honor the Confederacy. And not just here in Savannah, but also in Decatur, Buckhead and elsewhere.
As Atlanta-area State Rep. Angela Kausche said during the House debate on the bill, “It’s not lost on anyone that its purpose is to silence the debate surrounding Confederate monuments in Georgia.”
We urge Gov. Kemp to veto the monument protection act. And we encourage the members of our own delegation to reevaluate their positions on the state’s role in exerting control over regulatory matters best left to local interests.
The Augusta Chronicle on thanking Vietnam veterans.
We’ve heard it mumbled around here before: Doesn’t Augusta have enough memorials to veterans?
We can’t define “enough” for you, but we can tell you how obtuse that question is. We also can tell you, without hesitation, that every such monument in the Garden City is deeply deserved.
The newest one is no different, and it’s about time it made its appearance.
At 1 p.m. Friday - which also was National Vietnam War Veterans Day - the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was scheduled to be unveiled officially, near the intersection of Broad and Fourth streets in Olde Town. It honors Vietnam vets throughout the Augusta area; that’s more than 15,000 men and women. On the guest list for the observance were Mayor Hardie Davis, and representatives from the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon.
The monument was made possible through the Vietnam War Memorial Initiative, a project of the Augusta chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars. A great deal of planning goes into an effort like this. Private donations for the marker have been solicited for more than a year that we know of. Its cost was $62,000. Its value is incalculable.
The guest speaker for Friday’s occasion couldn’t have been chosen better - retired Marine Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston. He received the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military award for heroism. In a 1968 battle, getting wounded three times didn’t stop then-Capt. Livingston from leading his men to victory. He wouldn’t allow himself to be evacuated or medical treatment until he knew all his men were safe.
He’s a Georgia boy, too. His hometown of Lumber City, high in the mountains, has a state historical marker honoring Livingston and his acts of bravery.
That marker was placed in 1993. It took more than a quarter-century for a similar honor to be accorded to our Vietnam veterans here, through this new monument.
There were no huge ticker-tape parades for these soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen returning from Vietnam. There’s no iconic photo of a sailor kissing a girl in Times Square, to symbolize a nation’s joy that its fighting forces were headed home.
Vietnam’s veterans - scarred in ways only battle can inflict - returned instead to a confused, indifferent America. Vets who were met stateside with joy and relief were just as likely to be met with scorn.
It used to be, at gatherings of veterans during holidays and other patriotic observances, when you saw someone with gray hair you could almost always rightly assume you were looking at a vet who served in World War II or the Korean War.
It’s still possible. But it remains difficult for some of us to imagine vets of the Vietnam War now among the ranks of the gray. Then it hits you: The first U.S. troops landed in South Vietnam in 1965; the U.S. withdrew officially in 1975. Decades ago. Lifetimes ago.
The roots of military pride in Augusta are strong and deep. With this marker, those roots now officially and visibly extend to our Vietnam vets. To each of them, thank you.