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Kemp Mabry – Learning to appreciate Thanksgiving

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Posted: November 20, 2006 9:04 a.m.
Updated: December 18, 2006 9:51 a.m.
    Thanksgiving. My fifth grade teacher was Miss Edith Manning, a member of one of Cobb County’s pioneer families. She was a good teacher and I responded to her efforts.
    I later learned that, as a young teacher, she had been frustrated with the profession and had considered leaving teaching. She told me half a century later that our class responded to her efforts so she remained a teacher until her retirement. I am so glad she stayed in the profession.
    As Thanksgiving season approached, we learned about “the first Thanksgiving” by the Pilgrims in 1621. We prepared to reenact the first Thanksgiving. My parents made me a Pilgrim suit out of black cloth.
    My father made me a Pilgrim hat out of cardboard and black cloth. I later learned that the tin foil buckle he put on the hat was not
an authentic representation — too gaudy for a Pilgrim.
    I was to be Governor Bradford. I presided over the first Thanksgiving reenactment. Someone read the Mayflower Compact. one of our earliest documents. It had some elements of democracy, as I recall.
    As Governor Bradford, I presided over the “feast.” I kept my Pilgrim hat until it literally disintegrated and fell apart.
    About 50 years later, I received a telephone call. When I realized it was Miss Manning calling about something I had written in the Bulloch Herald, I reminded her that she was speaking with “Governor Bradford,” much to her delight!
    Although, for many, Thanksgiving dinner is the feast of the year, I have always avoided overeating. We have so much for which to be thankful. In my case, I am always thankful to have been born in a free country and into a Christian family.
    In Brooklet, a community dinner is held a week before the official holiday. One time, several years ago, I was speaker. Recently, the Reverend Julian Ward and I were invited to present our program “to restore America’s voice,” teaching the music, words and meaning of “The Star Spangled Banner,” our National Anthem.
    We were well received in Brooklet as we have been at civic clubs and other groups in Bulloch County during the past two years.
    We are sponsored locally by American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90. The project originated with the National Association of Music Educators which sponsors the project in schools.
    A full report includes our efforts in Bulloch County and Julian’s program sponsored by the Alderwood Group which he serves as community relations and regional director.
    In our project, I speak, Julian sings. In his latest program, he spoke and sang at the Georgia Economic Development Association meeting in Savannah. Over 600 were in attendance and they gave him a standing ovation! We have no doubt stirred latent patriotism. We gave a full report to the American Legion at their Veterans Day Dinner.
    Thanksgiving, indeed, in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
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