Winn Parish Brothers Will Be Frist Set of Triplets to Graduate from Grambling University Tomorrow

Winn Parish triplets Stevie, Steven, and Stephon Wilson will graduate from Grambling State University tomorrow, April 15, 2021, carrying on the tradition as fifth-generation graduates from the university. Their family has attended Grambling since the 1950s. The brothers will be the first set of triplets to ever graduate from Louisiana’s Grambling State University.

The Wilson brothers, who grew up in Winnfield, LA consist of Stevie, Steven and Stephon. According to a press release, Stevie and Steven have plans to become doctors, while the youngest sibling, Stephon, is pursuing a position with The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as an asset management specialist.

The brothers were born eight weeks premature and were initially projected to have developmental delays.
“They tried to put us in special education,” said Stephon, a double major in management and computer information systems, according to Grambling State News. “If it wasn’t for my mother… she’s the one that said ‘no, those boys got talent.’ When we graduated high school, we proved them wrong. Now we’re getting ready to walk and prove them wrong again.”

Stevie, a biology major who hopes to become a physician, shared that the doctors he saw tending to his grandmother inspired him to want to go into medicine. “They were straightforward, but also endlessly concerned and compassionate,” the eldest triplet said of the doctors that helped his grandmother recover after her knee replacement surgery. “This gave me a greater appreciation for the medical profession. I decided it was my purpose in life to give back. I’m here because of those health professionals. I feel that it is my time to give back.”

Steven, the middle triplet and second biology major in the trio, aspires to become an anesthesiologist and wants to integrate himself into a sector that historically lacks diversity. “There’s not a lot of African-American males in the medical field,” he said. “In the next generation or decade or so, we need those Black role models in medicine. Without them, where would the medical field be? Who will advocate for the culture, the people, or the community?”

“Our motto when we left Winnfield was to set the standard for other African American minorities in our town. Many young students in Winnfield don’t have that role model to look up to. We set that standard to let them know it can be done.” said Steven.

Their mother, D’Juana Wilson, shared that the day her son’s graduate will be filled with emotion, referring to the moment as “bittersweet.”

“It’s gonna be a bittersweet day,” said Mrs. Wilson. “It’s going to be some shouting and crying going on that day!”


Winn Parish Early Voting Stats

Early voting is April 10 – 17 (excluding Sunday, April 11) from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

Winn Parish Early Voting Results through Tuesday, April 13, 2021.

Total In Person Absentee (Mail)
175 93 82

White Black Other
148 26 1

Male Female
73 102

Democrat Republican Other
65 86 24

On the ballot in Winn Parish:

BESE District 4
Michael Melerine Republican
“Cassie” Williams Democrat

Police Juror District 7
Jesse Delane Cox Republican
“Frank” McLaren No Party


Rotary Club of Winnfield Now Accepting 2021 Scholarship Applications – Deadline is April 16

The Rotary Club of Winnfield (the club) is excited to announce that the club is accepting applications from high school seniors for its two scholarships.

The club is pleased to offer two $1500 scholarships to high school seniors who plan to pursue post-secondary studies at a university, community college or technical college.

The scholarships are the Lawrence I. White Rotary Scholarship, offered solely to WSHS seniors, and the Thomas H. Harrel Memorial Scholarship, available to seniors parish-wide.

WSHS seniors may use the WSHS-Scholarship Packet to apply for both scholarships. Seniors at Dodson, Calvin and Atlanta High School please use T.H.-Harrell-Scholarship Packet to apply.

The application deadline is April 16, 2021. Applications can be turned into school counselors or submitted via email to rotaryclubwinnla@gmail.com.

For more information, you may contact the Rotary Club of Winnfield President Jodi Taylor at 832-573-5085. 

Download applications and information here – 


Winn Parish Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report

Name: Joshawa D. Latchie
Date: 4-7-2021
Address: Winnfield, LA
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: 24
Charge: Possession of Schedule II (Methamphetamine)
Bond: $20,000

Name: Rebecca Meredith
Date: 4-7-2021
Address: Chatham, LA
Race: White
Gender: Female
Age: 53
Charge: Theft of a Motor Vehicle, Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling
Bond: $35,000

Name: Laquinta A. Phillips
Date: 4/8/2021
Race: Black
Gender: Female
Age: 41
Charge: No Driver’s License on Person, No Seat Belt, Driving Under Suspension, Failure to Appear

Name: Kevin D. Sapp
Date:4-9-2021
Address: Atlanta, LA
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: 37
Charge: Failure to Appear x 4

Name: Chloe Drew Boyett
Date: 4-9-2021
Race: White
Gender: Female
Age: 23
Charge: Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle

Name: Anthony Goff
Date: 4-10-2021
Address: Winnfield, LA
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: 37
Charge: General Speed Law, No Passing Zones, Obstruction to Driver’s View, No Driver’s License, No Insurance, Driving on Right Side of Road, Following too Close, Traff Signals, Resist Officer by Flight, Reckless Operation w/o Accident, Stop & Yield Signs, Obstruction of Highway-Agg, No Seatbelt 1st

Name: Zachary Taylor Buchan
Date: 4-10-2021
Address: Jonesboro, LA
Race: White
Gender: Male
Age: 21
Charge: FTA, Domestic Abuse Battery, Criminal Damage to Property

Name: Fredrick Wayne Smith
Date: 4-10-2021
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: 39
Charge: Natchitoches Warrant Failure to Appear x 2

Name: Nicholas Mark Kelly
Date: 4-11-2021
Race: White
Gender: Male
Age: 22
Charge: Bench Warrant x 2, Speeding

Name: Michael S. Anderson
Date: 4-12-2021
Address: Calvin, LA
Race: White
Gender: Male
Age: 32
Charge: Battery of a Dating Partner, Cruelty To A Juvenile(S)

Name: Marcus D. Booker, Jr.
Date: 4-12-2021
Address: Winnfield, LA 
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: 34
Charge: Unauthorized Entry of Inhabited Dwelling, Possession of Schedule II Drugs, Battery of a Police Officer x 2, Resisting Arrest x 8


Remember This? Sweet Kiss

By: Brad Dison

Frank Hayes was an apprentice jockey originally from Ireland.  Rather than a full-fledged jockey, Frank was employed as a stable hand and horse trainer.  In 1923, the twenty-year old had been working with horses for about five years, had raced only occasionally, and had never won a race.  Frank’s passion was to become a professional jockey.  Frank’s boss saw that he had potential and offered him a chance to prove himself in an upcoming race.  In his determination to win, Frank took drastic measures in his preparations for the race.  To qualify to ride in the race, Frank had to weigh 130 pounds or less.  At 145 pounds, Frank was too heavy.  He needed to lose weight quickly.  Frank used every trick known to jockeys, and, according to newspaper accounts, lost fifteen pounds in 24 hours, a feat which hardly seems likely or possible.  Whether Frank lost fifteen pounds in a single day or over a period of a few days, his quick weight loss was extraordinary.  By the time of weigh-in, according to the judges Frank weighed exactly 130 pounds.  He was able to compete.    

On June 4, 1923, Frank was “piloting” a horse called “Sweet Kiss” in a steeplechase at Belmont Park, a major thoroughbred horse racing facility in Elmont, New York, just east of New York City.  Steeple chasing originated in Ireland and took its name from the church steeple used for orientation in plotting the course’s direction.  While thoroughbred racing typically uses an oval track, a steeplechase track is made up of obstacles for the horses to jump, usually hedges or fences with pools of water on the far side.  

On that day in 1923, the odds were twenty to one against “Sweet Kiss.”  It was a long shot.  The horses lined up in their starting gate and awaited the sound of the pistol.  Pow!!!  The gates opened and the horses were off.  Another horse, Gimmie, gained a slight lead from the start.  Frank held his body as close as possible to Sweet Kiss’s back to lessen wind resistance.  Patrons of the horse race could see little more of Frank than his bright silk jockey uniform as he and Sweet Kiss sped past them.  The horse and jockey seemed to soar gracefully and effortlessly over each of the twelve obstacles on the two-mile track.  The crowd roared with cheers.  In the final turn, Sweet Kiss took the lead.  When Sweet Kiss leaped gracefully over the final obstacle and straightened out for the run to the finish line, Frank swayed in the saddle.  He slipped to one side for just a moment but quickly recovered.  

The crowd cheered as Frank and Sweet Kiss crossed the finish line at Belmont track.  Sweet Kiss won by a length and a half.  Frank showed no emotion although it was the first time, he won a horserace.  By all accounts, Frank piloted Sweet Kiss to an easy victory.  After crossing the finish line, Sweet Kiss trotted then walked toward the judges stand.  Rather than sitting up in the saddle like all of the other jockeys, Frank remained in his racing position, close to Sweet Kiss’s back.  The crowd continued to cheer for Frank and the horse.  Suddenly, Frank fell from the horse onto the track.  Attendants hurried onto the track to attend to Frank.  They quickly realized that Frank would never race again.  

You see, during the race Frank suffered a massive heart attack.  He died just as Sweet Kiss landed his last jump of the race.  Doctors attributed Frank’s death to his incredibly quick weight loss.  Three days later, Frank was buried in his bright silk jockey uniform.  Frank Hayes holds the Guinness World Record as the first (and only) jockey to ride to victory… after his own death.  

Sources:
1.  Buffalo Courier (Buffalo, New York), June 5, 1923, p.11.
2.  Des Moines Tribune (Des Moines, Iowa), June 5, 1923, p. 16.
3.  The Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York), June 6, 1923, p.10.
|4. “First Deceased Jockey to Win a Race,” Guinness World Records, accessed April 2, 2021, guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/first-deceased-jockey-to-win-a-race.


Out of Extreme Caution, Louisiana Department of Health Puts Temporary Pause on All Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The Louisiana Department of Health is placing a temporary pause on all administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while federal health agencies investigate whether six reported cases of blood clotting in other states were caused by the vaccine. Providers in the state of Louisiana will continue to use the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and all Louisianans are encouraged to take advantage of the available vaccines, so the state can continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 and put the pandemic in its rearview.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recommended that the United States pause the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution over six reported U.S. cases of a “rare and severe” type of blood clot.

“Today’s pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is out of an abundance of caution. This morning, I had a call with White House officials and other governors to discuss this issue as we work to safely get as many Louisianans 16 and older vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible. While I understand that this news may be concerning, I remain committed to working alongside public health experts to make sure people can get the answers they need to make an informed decision,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Right now, there are two safe and effective vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – available and being administered in Louisiana and I encourage everyone in Louisiana to keep their appointments and to take advantage of the vaccines we have available. Nearly one million Louisianans have already completed their vaccinations against COVID-19. There have been around 85,000 Johnson and Johnson doses administered in Louisiana and no reported cases of this rare blood clot that we are aware of. In the short-term, this means some community vaccination events may have to be rescheduled or shifted to use Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for now and working with the team from the Louisiana Department of Health and health care officials, we will continue the important work of administering vaccines.”

“While this news is frustrating and concerning, we appreciate the FDA acting with abundant caution and transparency,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s State Health Officer. “We do not yet know whether these reported cases of blood clotting were caused by the vaccine. The State of Louisiana takes vaccine safety very seriously, and this temporary pause should give the public and providers confidence the system of monitoring and safety checks are working as intended.”

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, LDH is temporarily pausing in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.

Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, chest pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.

Minor side effects are a normal sign the body is building protection. Side effects may include pain and swelling in the arm, fever, chills, tiredness or a headache. Most side effects will go away in a few days or less.

Vaccine availability of Pfizer and Moderna will continue uninterrupted.


A New and Growing Crisis on Our Southern Border

By: Royal Alexander/Opinion

No nation can long remain a sovereign nation if it cannot control, secure, and defend its own borders

It is not often we are presented in national policy with such a clear contrast—a clear connection between cause and effect—but that is what is on display on our southern border. 

As reflected in the latest data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the overall tally for all illegal immigrants, of all ages, encountered on our southern border in March was 172,000, a 71% percent increase from the already high numbers in February, the Biden Administration’s first full month in office. That’s up from 103,731 in March 2019 and way up from 50,347 in March 2018.  Sadly, this includes 18,890unaccompanied children, compared to 9,380 in March 2019 and 5,244 in March2018.

It’s worth asking why the number of those attempting illegal entry into the U.S. has increased so dramatically in 2021.  The only logical answer is the drastic change in immigration policy in the Biden Administration.  

It’s been feebly argued that these droves are the result of a “seasonal surge” of workers who seek unfilled jobs here. (This assertion is undermined by the fact that, in a political gift to the unions, there are no new avenues for guest workers who would on a short-term basis be allowed to take unfilled American jobs). Seasonal workers may impact the number but the drastic surge we are seeing can only be credibly attributed to Biden promises and policies. His words and actions have created the impression that now is the time to try to sneak into America.

Also, most importantly, why has the border wall and the fencing and technology it includes not been continued to completion?  It’s clear that the area in which the wall has not been finished is where illegals are most heavily pouring into the country.  The wall unquestionably slows if not stop entirely the flow of illegal activity.  What video and documentary evidence there makes clear is that the surge at the border is about much more than children and their parents seeking jobs or even asylum in the U.S.  Instead, the drug trafficking from Mexico has hugely increased as large amounts of drugs including marijuana and heroin have been seized at the border.  This, of course, says nothing about the human traffickers and terrorists who are coming into the country.

And—while the national media often does not report honestly anyway—why has it been denied access to the southern border by the Biden Administration?(Can you imagine the screaming if the Trump Administration had denied press access this way?).  The answer of course is that the southern border has become both a humanitarian disaster and magnet for illegal activity that the Biden Administration does not wish the American People to witness.

The American people must quickly demand that our federal government take the necessary steps to stop this influx and secure our borders.  No immigration reform legislation has a chance until we first stop the illegal activity.

The views and opinions expressed in the My Opinion article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Winn Parish Journal. Any content provided by the authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.


Power UP YOUR CAREER WITH LOUISIANA CAT – Hydraulic Hose Assembly Technician Position Open in Winnfield

ARE YOU READY TO MAKE A POWERFUL IMPACT? 

THE OPPORTUNITY

We are looking for a Hydraulic Technician to join our growing operations at our Winnfield, Louisiana location.

YOU

The person in this role will be responsible for maintaining and overhauling hydraulics and related components.

YOUR CONTRIBUTION

  • You will repair, assemble and install components for hydraulic systems.
  • You will maintain and overhaul hydraulics and related components.
  • You will read and interpret equipment manuals, mechanical and electrical schematics, and other specifications to determine the repair method on failed components.
  • You will replace or repair defective components, using hand tools, gauges, and testing equipment.
  • You will assemble and install electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic equipment using hand or power tools.
  • You will rebuild install and align pump assemblies utilizing safe rigging methods using hand or power tools.
  • You will execute preventative maintenance and troubleshooting.
  • You will properly install repaired hydraulic components in the field if required.
  • You will perform electrical, electronic, mechanical, hydraulic system inspections.

YOUR VALUE

  • You will promote positive customer service according to Caterpillar and Louisiana CAT expectations
  • You will have the tools and building blocks to MAKE A CAREER here at Louisiana CAT. In walk through our Louisiana CAT doors…are the finest Caterpillar Heavy Equipment Service Technicians in the South.

MOST IMPORTANT QUALIFICATIONS

  • REQUIRED: High School Diploma or (GED) equivalent
  • REQUIRED: Minimum of 3 years of experience in Hydraulic Assembly
  • REQUIRED: Strong mechanical Aptitude
  • REQUIRED: Basic understanding of hand tools
  • REQUIRED: Strong attention to detail and problem solving skills
  • REQUIRED: Ability to work in a team environment
  • Must own required tool inventory. Louisiana Cat offers exclusive Tooling Program (specific discussed during interviews)
  • Strong customer service skills, mechanical aptitude, professional demeanor and always “safety-first” mentality every hour of every day

JOB FACTS

  • WORK SHIFT: 12 hour days / some weekend; variety of shifts (specifics will be discussed during interviews)
  • Will require physical movement as listed in the job description

SAFETY IN ALL WE DO

  • We require strict compliance with PPE (personal protective equipment) safety regulations
  • We maintain compliance with all Federal, State and Local safety and company regulations
  • All employees must follow all Company Health, Safety & Environmental (HSE) procedures
  • Louisiana Cat is a drug-free workplace

WHY PEOPLE JOIN LOUISIANA CAT

  • We are known for service quality and unsurpassed customer relationships guided by our strong company values, culture and safety standards
  • We have energy, focus and passion delivering results because what we do impacts our customers each and every day
  • We work across Construction, Electrical Power, Forestry, Governmental, Heavy Equipment, Industrial, Landscaping, Marine Engines and Oil & Gas industries
  • We invest in training and development programs for our employees to build their toolkit and career paths here at Louisiana CAT
  • We offer competitive pay and benefits, paid holidays and vacation, employee incentive programs and 401(k) company match programs to meet family and work lifestyles

Apply Here

WHO WE ARE

Louisiana CAT is the only authorized Caterpillar Dealer for the state of Louisiana. We provide Caterpillar Equipment, Service, Parts and Engines to customers across a wide range of industries. We are guided by our strong company culture, safety standards and activities in the communities in which we operate. We seek out employees who are inspired by our timeless values, thrive in growing company environment and want to become a part of a dynamic company backed by 85+ years of success. We have 23 locations across Louisiana and the Gulf South with Corporate HQ located in Reserve, LA and Power Systems HQ located in New Iberia, LA.

To BE The Best…We HIRE The Best. POWER UP and Click RED button “APPLY For This Position” on our Louisiana CAT Careers Page https://www.louisianacat.com/careers to be considered for open roles at Louisiana CAT and affiliate companies. #LouisianaCATCareers #NowHiring #HiringOurHeroes #HiringTheBest


Join Our Helping Hands

OMC Seeking qualified candidates 

for the following key management positions:

  • Chief Nursing Officer / Director of Nursing
  • Executive Assistant to CEO/CMO
  • Director of Billing & Collections
  •  Patient Services Representative  

For more information, call 318-357-2071, see posting on Facebook page:

“The NEW Outpatient Medical Center”

You may also submit resume and a cover letter to

info@outpatientmedical.org

EOE


Opportunity: Supervisor of Department

POSITION: SUPERVISOR OF DEPARTMENT OF EXCEPTIONAL STUDENT SERVICES

SALARY: According to Natchitoches Parish School Salary Schedule

QUALIFICATIONS: Louisiana Certification in Supervision or eligible for an Educational Leader Level 1 Certification according to Bulletin 746.

TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT: Twelve Months

WHERE TO APPLY: Linda G. Page, Director of Personnel

Natchitoches Parish School Board

P. O. Box 16

Natchitoches, LA 71458-0016

(318) 352-2358

DEADLINE: Wednesday, 14, 2021

4:00 p.m.

APPLICATIONS: Application packet must consist of a letter of

application, resume’, original transcripts from

institutions awarding degrees, a copy of Louisiana Teacher’s

Certificate and three letters of reference.


Notice of Death April 13, 2021

WINN:
Larry Williams
November 19, 1938 – April 08, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Darren Jackson
April 1, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Mary Lee Sproles Ortego
May 29, 1949 – March 18, 2021
Arrangements TBA

NATCHITOCHES:
Thomas Allen Solomon
September 14, 1950 – April 12, 2021
Service: Friday, April 16 at 1 pm at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church of Natchitoches

Keshundrel DeQuez Russell
June 8, 1978 – March 31, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Sean Anthony Revels
June 22, 1968 – April 7, 2021
Service: Friday, April 16 from 6-9 pm at the Winnfield Life Funeral Home in Natchitoches

Johnnie Coleman
April 10, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Sean Revels
June 22, 1968 – April 7, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Amos Payton Jr.
April 4, 2021
Arrangements TBA


Winn Parish Early Voting Stats

Early voting is April 10 – 17 (excluding Sunday, April 11) from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

Winn Parish Early Voting Results through Saturday, April 10, 2021.

Total In Person Absentee (Mail)
90 37 53

White Black Other
76 13 1

Male Female
36 54

Democrat Republican Other
34 42 14

On the ballot in Winn Parish:

BESE District 4
Michael Melerine Republican
“Cassie” Williams Democrat

Police Juror District 7
Jesse Delane Cox Republican
“Frank” McLaren No Party


Winnfield Police Department Arrest Report

City of Winnfield Police Department

Name: Jeffrey T. Parker
Date: 4-6-2021
Address: Sikes, LA
Race: White
Gender: Male
Age: Not listed
Charge: First Degree Rape, Domestic Abuse Battery, Child Endangerment X 2, Simple Kidnapping, Unauthorized Entry of Inhabited Place, Criminal Mischief

Name: Alton C. Williamson
Date: 4-7-2021
Address: Montgomery, LA
Race: White
Gender: Male
Age: 62
Charge: Failure to Appear


Window to Winn – The Veterans Pledge Retold

By Bob Holeman

A good story is worth retelling. I think this is a good story and yes, I confess that it’s a rewrite of one I’ve done before. But in today’s society when disrespect of our flag is condoned and children are being told that our flag stands for hatred, racism, bigotry and more, I’m saying they’re wrong.

It happens every week across our country. A club president calls their civic meeting to order and often following a prayer (in the South, anyway), one member is asked to lead the club in repeating the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Certainly,” comes the response. “I pledge allegiance, to the flag…” and on we drone in a monotone until we conclude with “for liberty and justice for all.”

So it was with the Rotary Club of Winnfield which sailed through the recitation formality until 2009 when then-president Jim Pinkerton called on another past president J.W. Kennedy, to lead the Pledge.

In his quiet but confidently graveled voice, he invited the members, “Won’t you please join me in pledging allegiance to the flag of our Country?”

It was a simple invitation but one underscored with a powerfully patriotic message: “I’m going to pledge my allegiance to the flag of my great country. Will you please come along with me?”

This invitation would have carried some weight just because of Kennedy’s longtime service to the community, first as a photographer with his own studio but more likely remembered for his 43 years as the State Farm Insurance agent in Winnfield.

But the inward rally cry to join in his invitation came from knowing that Kennedy was a World War II veteran, a member of the 300th Engineer Combat Battalion that took part June 19, 1944, in the second wave landing on Utah Beach in Normandy, France.

With the approach of the 11th hour of November 11, 2011, I had taken the opportunity to interview any local World War II veteran willing to talk with me. I had the privilege of meeting with 32 of them. Others knew their story but were unwilling to relive that terrible time of their lives. It was a time when my respect for all veterans grew, regardless if their service was wartime or peacetime.

But James W. Kennedy Jr., Tec 5, was not among that group I interviewed. He had died a year before I began this mission. But he was one of those rare warriors who recorded his memories of June 1944 and the times that followed, sharing that story with his family.

Kennedy did not reach the Utah Beach that day nearly 77 years ago. LST-523 (Landing Ship Tank) was transporting some 200 American enlisted men and officers from Portsmith, England, to Normandy, France, when it struck a submerged German mine just offshore. The explosion ripped the ship in two, killing half of the men aboard.

Kennedy suffered serious head injuries and was transported back to the hospital in England for treatment. As he was recuperating he heard the words, “Your war is over, young man. You’re going home.” But he’d have no part of that. He defied orders and sneaked out of the hospital. He made his way the best he could back to rejoin his unit, where the Purple Heart recipient fought in other campaigns, including the Battle of the Bulge, through the war’s end.

Veterans like Kennedy witnessed the death and determination required before the American flag could be raised on combative shores in the quest for freedom. So it may be no surprise to see their chests swell a little bit more than the rest of us when they salute the flag of their country. They understand the blood and sacrifice that’s backed up the freedom it stands for.

Most of those marvelous men and women I interviewed back in 2011 have since passed away. They were part of what has become known as “The Greatest Generation.” They gave more for our country than we can repay.

Kennedy asked us only, “Won’t you please join me in pledging allegiance to the flag of our country.” Our club continues to respect that invitation as we consider the words we recite and the men and women who gave so much that our flag could still be standing. We try not to take for granted the freedoms they fought to preserve.

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

One more point on our Pledge. Some years back, another past president Mickey Simmons reminded us that there is no comma separating “one nation” from “under God.” Congress added the words “under God” to the Pledge in June 1954, a decade after D-Day. There should be no pause…no hiccup…in our affirmation that the United States is, in fact, one Nation under God.

Our country may have its faults but I don’t see crowds of Americans lining up at the border to go somewhere else. A lot of national healing could be achieved if instead of focusing on the perceived shortcomings of the other fellow, we could refocus on the God who our forefathers looked to for direction. Then we could be “One Nation Under God.”