Dawn M. Kurry and Laura Edington
Richmond County Daily Journal
Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon
The Richmond County Martin Luther King Jr. four-day celebration culminated in the annual luncheon held Monday at Sidney Grove Family Agape Center in Ellerbe.
As hundreds of people gathered for a meal, both familiar and new faces shared the special occasion.
State Representative Garland Pierce of District 48, which includes parts of the Richmond County areas of Marston, Hoffman, Ellerbe, Dobbins Heights and Hamlet, attended the luncheon for the first time.
“This is an outstanding event,” said Pierce. “I’m surprised at the community support. I’m going to Hoke County for another event later, but I’m really looking forward to working with Richmond County to keep the dream alive. I’m looking forward to a great legislative year for Richmond County.”
Pierce said he caught some of the presidential inauguration on the radio on his way to Ellerbe, but said he attended President Barack Obama’s first swearing in.
“I let my daughter and her friend have my tickets this time so they could go,” said Pierce.
Pierce was seated with his wife, and Hoffman Mayor Pro-Tem Tommy Hart.
“It’s a beautiful place they have here,” said Hart about the Sidney Grove Family Agape Center. “I’ve been coming here the last five years and it’s a blessing to me that we are all about to come together. It’s important for young people as they grow to know why this is so important.”
State Representative Ken Goodman of Rockingham said he attends the event annually.
“It’s a wonderful occasion and I come every year,” said Goodman. “I get inspired for the future of our country and community. I’m going to watch the inauguration when I get home.”
“This is a great opportunity for a mixture of individuals to come together and celebrate a man who put his life on the line for all people,” said Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. “Let’s put our differences aside and do the job at hand.”
President Barack Obama became the seventh president to deliver a second inaugural address on Monday, when he spoke to millions of people and called for America to come together as a nation.
The first African-American president made history once more when he was sworn in on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Echoing sentiments from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” Obama reminded Americans that we are not defined by the color of our skin, our faith, or the origins of our names.
“What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal … ,’” he said.
Speaking to the massive crowd about the nation’s journey, starting with our pioneer days, Obama spoke of the sacrifices which were made by our forefathers that gave us the freedom we have today. He mentioned that after the hardships faced, we renewed ourselves as a nation and moved forward.
Obama spoke about the nation working together as a whole and that the principals and foundations that America established did not come from one single person or act.
He said that “we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”
Obama talked about the trials America has faced that has “proved our resilience,” and prepared the nation for “limitless possibilities,” he said.
“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together,” Obama said.
U.S. Senator for North Carolina Kay Hagan, who attended the inauguration, wished Obama and his family the best. “As he continues his work in this second term, I urge President Obama to keep his focus trained on job creation and deficit reduction, and I myself will continue working on these priorities with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol,” she said.
U.S. Representative for North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District Richard Hudson was also at the event. “The Presidential Inauguration is an important event in U.S. history and it was an honor to stand by my colleagues and participate in the ceremony,” he said.
He pointed out the president’s mention of empowering the American people to succeed. ” … I believe that means reforming the tax code to provide hardworking families with more take-home pay and providing small businesses with the tools they need to thrive and expand. I am hopeful that Congress and the president will work together to cut spending and create jobs,” Hudson said.
The theme of the inauguration was “Faith in America’s Future,” and it commemorated the 150th anniversary of the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol dome.
— Staff Writers Dawn M. Kurry and Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15 or 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.