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MLK’s final speech recited for annual tribute program

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade and program began and ended at Emmanuel Church of God in Christ adjacent to Keller Intermediate School the afternoon of January 21, the anniversary of MLK’s birthday.

The highlight of the program and new this year was Stephanie Gaskins and her daughter, 14-year-old Kelsey Wilcox, reciting an excerpt of MLK’s last public speech before he was shot in 1968.

In the speech, known as “the mountaintop” speech, MLK talks of when he was stabbed by a woman at a book signing in Harlem 10 years earlier and how the doctors told him the knife came so close to a critical artery, had he sneezed he would have perished in the attack.

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life — longevity has its place,” said Ms. Gaskins, a high school teacher and tutor with the new Keller Outreach Ministry, which offers free tutoring to students at St. James Baptist Church.

For video from the parade and program, click here.

“But I’m not concerned about that now,” she continued. “I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything, I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

The parade included fire department and ambulance units, a few classic cars like the 1970 Buick Wildcat driven by former school board member Paul Raulerson with daughter and schools superintendent Sherrie Raulerson; and a number of residents carrying signs and banners paying tribute to the slain civil rights leaders.

A hot dog lunch was served following the parade  as public officials and others shared their reflections on the MLK’s life.

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Gingerbread house builders at Westside Elementary

Students at Westside Elementary School were joined in the cafeteria by parents and teachers the afternoon of December 18 in crafting miniature houses of gingerbread, candy, frosting, pretzels, cereal and other tasty materials to bring home with them.

Pictured at left are students from Peggy Hand’s third grade class, including Pyper Pendleton (right) and Damarea Lee (middle) with Ms. Hand (rear).

Photo by Joel Addington

‘A way to teach children’: Planting flags at vet’s graves

Josie Jacobs, 8, plants a flag at a veteran's grave at Macedonia Cemetery on Veterans Day.With a bundle of American flags in hand, 8-year-old Josie Jacobs pronounced with conviction the headstone’s inscription: “Charles L. Jordan, Florida, U.S. Marine Corps …”

The youth from Glen St. Mary then sank one of the flags into the ground next to the marker.

On Veterans Day, Josie Jacobs, along with her mother Laura Jacobs, and two older sisters, Brandi and Rachel Harrison, 16 and 14 respectively, adorned the graves of many veterans laid to rest in the Macedonia Cemetery with the Stars and Stripes.

In recent years, the family has made similar trips to the South Prong and Olustee cemeteries for Veterans Day or Memorial Day to honor local deceased veterans.

Last Sunday was their first such trip to Macedonia, which is located off CR 23C and abuts the South Prong of the St. Mary’s River.

It’s where Laura Jacobs’ uncle, Air Force veteran Leon Mobley, is buried. He’s one of the many men in her family who served in the military going back four-plus Brandi Harrison adorns a veteran's grave with a red, white and blue cap.generations.

“It’s a way to teach the children about Veterans Day and the importance of remembering veterans for their service to our country,” Mrs. Jacobs said before the group weaved their way through the property, looking for veteran’s graves without flags.

“It’s sad to see the ones with no flowers or flags,” she said.

After walking more than two thirds of the cemetery and distributing dozens of flags and red, white and blue caps, the ladies ran out of materials.

The flags, about 40 large ones and a number of smaller ones, and the hats came from Laura Jacobs’ husband, who distributes them at Tea Party rallies. Next year, she plans to bring more.

She said her heart goes out to the veterans whose family members may have passed on or moved away from the area, leaving their graves without Old Glory flying overhead.

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