Leading by example

Published 6:51 am Monday, June 30, 2003

By By Brian Giles
Last Sunday's column talked about our community. It discussed a comparison of the community and the colors of the American flag. The idea of the column was that we have many different races of people here in Atmore, but we all have common bonds. These bonds are that first and foremost, we are all Americans. Second, that we are all citizens of the greater Atmore community. We may disagree on issues from time to time, but that is the beauty of living in a democracy.
This town has many people that are ambassadors for community pride and the city of Atmore. We should model ourselves after the leaders that carry the torch the highest and wave the flag the proudest.
There are no better examples than Lavan Lee Martin. He is a Native American, born and raised in Poarch. He has long been a citizen of Atmore and is the commander of the local VFW and an officer of the American Legion. You will know if you have ever had a conversation with Levan because he leaves a lasting impression of his love for his country and this community. Over the past few years, Lavan has been an asset to The Atmore Advance by writing articles that focus on local veterans and share the stories of their lives and their military careers.
As the new publisher here in Atmore, I have received more positive feedback about the veteran columns that Lavan wrote than any other story that we have published. I would like to thank Lavan for his commitment to tell these stories. I would also like to thank the veterans for allowing us to share their stories with the community.
Lavan is a walking, talking example of community pride. He has done a lot of work in the community, most recently by helping coordinate the flag disposal ceremony. Lavan recently visited the office and was discussing with me how pleased he was that so many members of community turned out to properly dispose of their flags. I immediately realized that is what I have been struggling to put into words: It is the small things that really make a big difference in a community.
It is writing a column about a local veteran. It is displaying an American flag in your front yard. It is having community prayer meetings. It is Unity in the Community. It is May Day. It is the community gathering together for a flag disposal ceremony, showing respect for what the flag represents.
We all need to lead by example and look for ways to be ambassadors for our community. It starts with the appearance of our neighborhoods, of our homes. It is as simple as keeping our grass cut or putting up a new mailbox; as simple as picking up litter in front of our businesses, keeping our community clean.
And we can take part in community activities. An excellent opportunity will be Friday night on the Poarch Creek Indian reservation at the Wellness &Activities Center (gym) and SAIL Center. The celebration to commemorate the birth of our country and our independence begins at 4 p.m. with children's activities that last until 8 p.m. From 7 – 9 p.m. will be a stage show with the fireworks kicking off at 9 o'clock. I encourage everyone to make plans to attend and show your pride and patriotism. I guarantee you Lavan will.

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