Celebrating Veterans Day has always been important to my family.
Four of my mother’s brothers and three of my dad’s brothers-in-law served in World War II. Two uncles served in Korea. Along with me, a half-dozen of my cousins served in Vietnam. After that I quit keeping count.
This year’s celebrations started on Saturday with a memorial service at the grave of William P. Price, founder of North Georgia Agricultural College which most of you know as North Georgia College & State University. Over the past year Camp 1860 Sons of the Confederate Veterans and North Georgia College & State University cadets had renovated the grave site in preparation for adding a Southern Cross of Honor. The project was spearheaded by Tim Ragland, commander of Dahlonega’s SCV Camp 1860.
On very short notice, I was asked to say a few words. Luckily, I had plenty of material to speak about.
The guest of honor and primary speaker was William Craig, great grandson of Colonel Price. There was a 21-gun salute by the North Georgia College & State University Blue Ridge Rifles Drill Team and prayers were rendered by Dr. Paul Bellino, chaplain of SCV Camp 1860.
Veterans Day dawned cloudy and rainy so the ceremony was moved into the Lumpkin County High School gymnasium. I want to commend the students for such a great job, well done. The featured speaker was Representative Nathan Deal, our 9th District Congressman. He gave a moving history of veterans fighting to preserve America’s freedom.
Congressman Deal related that he truly enjoyed representing Lumpkin County, because we are “the heart of patriotism in North Georgia.” He praised the NGCSU Cadet Corps for being the nations top ROTC unit. Additionally, he commended Lumpkin County High School and Lumpkin County Middle School on their JROTC programs.
Next stop was the Dawson County Veterans Day Celebration with a free lunch at Dawson County Middle School for all veterans.
Following lunch, there was a parade though Dawsonville ending back at the school.
The program recognized all of the veterans with special recognition for Purple Heart recipients and Gold Star ladies. The keynote speaker was Major Jason Swain from the NGCSU Military Department. Major Swain stated that the greatest gift we can give to veterans is not to waste the lives and freedoms they have fought to protect.
Colonel Bill Cain, also a member of the Dahlonega Lions Club, represented the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee and paid special tribute to Sgt. Christopher Goodwin and his family. Sgt Goodwin’s young son related how hard it is to be a soldier’s son. He was followed by his grandmother and mother who spoke on being a soldier’s mother and wife. Sgt Goodwin then thanked the community for its support of his family.
Rafael Picklesimer opened the program with the National Anthem. Later, he sang “God Bless the USA” and closed the ceremony with his stirring rendition of “Taps.” I always enjoy listening to Rafael.
We had a healthcare conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, hosted by the Georgia Health Care Association. The presentations and discussions centered on the reductions in Medicaid reimbursements, especially since Oct. 1, when new federal guidelines went into effect. Five Georgia nursing homes have declared bankruptcy in the past six weeks.
The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia met Tuesday night at Southern Catholic College. With the recent release of Georgia’s dismal October revenue report, neither Senator Pearson nor I could offer much encouragement to the commissioners. The year-to-date comparison of the FY 2009 Budget with FY 2010 shows we are on track for a $2.5 to $3.0 billion budget deficit, somewhere between an 18-20 percent shortfall.
On Friday (the 13th), I was once again at the Capitol for Appropriation Committee pre-session discussions of the proposed K-12 budgets. The Governor is in the process of putting together an Amended FY 2010 Budget as well as the FY 2011 Budget. Until he makes a final decision, our discussions are based on the Department of Education proposals. These pre-session discussions with DOE will allow us to make more informed decisions once the session begins.
During these challenging economic times, we Legislators must re-double our efforts to get more bang for the fewer bucks we have to service your needs.
That’s why most of us spend so much time between sessions in serious committee work at the Capitol.
In less than eight weeks the new Legislative Session begins in January.
Let me know your legislative needs as soon as you can.
Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; (706) 864-6589; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can contact Gerald Lewy, my communications director, at (706) 344-7788.