By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie had conversations involving the Alabama League of Municipalities that couldn’t wait, and we had to “talk fast.” The first order of business was the Christmas Parade, for which the weather was slated to be perfect. It was clear that this is an Athens-Limestone event for which the mayor has a soft spot. The theme, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” of course, is a throwback to the classic Christmas song that was written during WWII and became the anthem of soldiers who would indeed be home, “if only in [their] dreams.” The song was recorded by Bing Crosby, became a monster hit, and has remained a highly popular, genuinely American Christmas carol. Interestingly, here in the Rocket City, there is an even greater reason to love the song and the theme. In December of 1965, the Gemini 7 crew of James Lovell and Frank Borman set what was then the record for the longest time in space in the history of the United States space program. As they headed back to earth, the communication team from NASA asked if there was any particular music they would like to listen to as part of the “inflight service.” They specifically requested the Bing Crosby recording of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” The Gemini craft that brought Lovell and Borman safely home is on display at the US Space and Rocket Center.
“Back in Athens,” the talk turned to how important it is that we preserve the small-town feel that is indigenous to our town, and the mayor told a story that so clearly demonstrates what makes Athens a marvelous place to live, any time of year. Earlier in the fall when Athens High School had its pep rally on the Square, someone new to the area inquired as to what was going on. He was told that it was a high school pep rally, and the fact that we do something so quintessentially small town proved to be the tipping point as to where he and his family would move. “We have an opportunity to serve and continue to work for the future,” said Mayor Ronnie, and then, as he often does, talked about what had spoken to him from church on Sunday. “We need to BE the Book of Acts and be thankful for all that we have and all that God has blessed us with, and we also need to be humble and realize that as Americans we don’t have all the answers,” he said.
We talked about all the Senate and Congressional races, and the fact that all of the candidates are good, and what a blessing it is to live in a place where the people who are running for office all have merit. The State of the City address is slated for January 25, and not surprisingly, it is going to talk a lot about how we are growing, and how to grow well. The time flew far more quickly than usual and we both needed to hit the road. So, we prayed, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner