Meridian Star

January 3, 2008

Mississippi Heritage in 2008

By Anne McKee

I saw a church friend at the grocery last week and in one quick conversation we discovered a kinship all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Yes, just standing there between the seafood department and cocktail sauce we traded notes on family history. Why did we spend this time together, for pity’s sake, right there in the middle of Winn Dixie? It’s because we think Mississippi Heritage is important. Do you?

Mississippi Heritage, in my biased opinion, continues strong and steadfast year after year, don’t you think? I speak as a native Mississippian, of course, but I state again: Mississippi is a land where family values are important as they intermingle with love of community and a deep, and abiding Trust in God. How else could we survive the many years of trauma and turmoil of the past?

As we begin a new year in Mississippi, I pray that 2008 will bring a new and fresh horizon for our state and I am confident it will come forth if we all work together to make Mississippi the best it can be … Again – We Must All Work Together.

If the recent Christmas season of gifts and goodwill is any indication, 2008 in Mississippi will shine as bright as the stars that glow in the heavenly skies over our beautiful state. I hope you have noticed that reports of the recent giving season were up and above average for almost every area. Yes, from church offerings to community projects, military unit donations, and private corporations, the city of Meridian and Lauderdale County plus our surrounding communities of Kemper/Newton/Neshoba/Clarke/Jasper Counties are more than generous, and no one can argue with that.

It comes with no shock to report according to population and yearly income, Mississippians exceed every other state in charitable donations. How does this happen? It’s easy - Mississippians Think with their Hearts!

Of importance in Mississippi, and standing shoulder to shoulder with charitable donations, is our heritage. Yes, indeed, because you see we take care of our own. Recent case in point is, of course, Katrina.

While others were competing for national government attention and media coverage, Gov. Barbour put a distress call out to the citizens of Mississippi. The giving spirit flowed over the entire state as hospitals and clinics kicked on their generators and worked tirelessly hour after hour ministering to the many needs, and there were so many needs. Mississippi volunteer fire departments along with Mississippi Reserve and Guard Units gathered by the thousands with chainsaws, and just plain out muscle, to lift the many pine trees and other debris torn and scattered over streets, houses and vehicles – clearing the roads to make way for help that was pouring south from our entire state. The churches and community clubs also threw into the mix by organizing soup kitchens, distributing water, personal items and, most importantly, sweet Christians just there to hold the hands and give hugs to their neighbors throughout the state who were so torn apart - not only their possessions, but their very souls.

I know the Katrina story is not new-news, but as Mississippians we must continue to uplift our state and her actions during one of the darkest hours in our state history, and the Katrina story is Mississippi heritage at its best. It’s a piece of state history that will be long remembered if we as Mississippians pay attention and make certain the correct Katrina facts are taught instead of the Monday-morning-quarterbacking-hype that still remains large in present-day political commentaries whether by hard print or online, and dear Mississippians, the misquotes and innuendo’s continue daily. It is important that we read, listen, investigate and be aware in order to record the worthy Katrina/Mississippi actions that actually took place. We must insist that the Mississippi-Katrina record is straight and accurate. No one is going to do it for us.

A friend, Richelle Putnam, and I have written a Mississippi Heritage Program geared for Pre-K through second grade students of our state. We have taken this program to public libraries, and public and private schools/daycare centers all across the state. We have the young students up and on their feet singing, “You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog” as we talk about famous Mississippians such as Elvis and Oprah. We sing, “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain When She Comes,” as we teach that the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains are located in northeastern Mississippi with such questions as, “Do Mountains have feet?” We talk about “The River” and the most beautiful songbird in the whole world, the Mississippi Mocking Bird, plus the wonderful fragrance of our state flower, the Magnolia. We lead Mississippi cheers and we teach how wonderful it is to live in our state plus we uplift our Mississippi blue skies, clean air, good people and beautiful trees and streams. If you are interested in this program, please call me at (601) 681-8525.

The program is about the length of twenty minutes and the children do not want us to leave – they want more fun and excitement about Mississippi. I ask? If we as Mississippians do not teach Mississippi heritage to our children, who will?

Dear Mississippians … May God continue to Bless our State in 2008.