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Members of Hendersonville’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrated its annual Pioneer Day. The celebration commemorates the 1,000 mile trek that many church members made across the American continent during the late 1800’s. The day began with a wide array of picnic foods, desserts and lemonade. The “OH’s” echoed throughout the shelter when a pickup truck arrived with two roasted pigs laid out for good ‘pickins’!
The celebration took on a more somber and nostalgic flavor when the entire group sang “Come, Come Ye Saints” a traditional song played and sung by the pioneers when crossing the plains in 1848 to escape religious persecution on their trek to Salt Lake City, Utah to establish Zion. The choir then sang ‘Pioneer Lullaby’ featuring the soulful sounds of piano and violin streaming throughout the park. It is a sad, haunting song of so many pioneers who had to bury their small children crossing the plains.
Hendersonville, NC has its own group of Pioneers. The Hendersonville LDS 2nd Branch congregation has nearly 100 immigrant members from the Micronesian Islands of the western Pacific. Micronesia is a region that includes 2100 islands, some of which are US Territories. The region has no common written language, just many spoken dialects. Communicating even among themselves can be a challenge. They have found a common focus, however, in their love for Our Savior, Jesus Christ.
On a more upbeat and patriotic note, all of the over 200 attendees (featuring many of our Micronesian members) sang in unison “We the People”. Composed by Sandy Wilbur for elementary school children, this song depicts the Preamble of our Constitution of the United States of America. Music Director, Darlene Beasley, hand-painted the “We the People” flag banner. This presentation truly represented the multi-culturism of our wonderful country. The blending of the many melodious voices and smiling faces certainly portrayed the unity and freedom we have in the United States and why we can be called ‘united’ as one, under God.
There are no words to express the spirit at this event, especially when so many of the Micronesian families, in their native dress, performed their native dances to beautiful island music. So many wore turquoise and orange tee shirts labeled “LDS Pioneer – Micronesia” and then the rains came…blessings from heaven. They continued to dance as the downpour drenched them all…and they still smiled and danced…and we all cheered with joy and felt our hearts burst with love and appreciation for the unity we felt for our ‘modern day Pioneers’!
Story by Carolyn Meinhardt, 828-458-1504
For additional Information contact: Ben Beasley, Branch President (828) 698-1223
Over 500 people attended the Second Annual Doolittle Raiders Celebration held at NAS Pensacola. Sponsored by the CTW-6 (Navy) and the 479th Flight Training Group (USAF), naval and air force flight students, their guests and local military supporters came out to salute our Pensacola Pearl Harbor Survivors.
Launched on April 18, 1941, 16 American B-25 bombers flew from the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet, and commanded by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, this surprise air raid was designed to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor. 80 brave crew members, referred to as the Doolittle Raiders, embarked on a “dangerous, secret mission” with little hope of surviving because the planes did not contain enough fuel to return to the ship. The flight successfully resulted in a bombing raid at high noon in Tokyo, the first attack of World War II . Believing that their homeland was safe, since Japan had not been attacked since 1281 by Kublai Khan, Japanese citizens were jerked into the reality that their homeland was no longer protected by the magical “kamikaze” – divine wind. This attack was the first joint mission between United States Army Air Force and the United States Navy against an enemy.
Three local Pearl Harbor Survivors, M. Jay Carraway, Frank Emond and Cass E. Phillips were the guests of honor at this year’s celebration. Each had an opportunity to recall their December 7th, 1941 adventures. In addition, survivor Angie Engel, wife of the late CDR Joseph Engel, and her family attended.
The Manhattan Dolls, based in Tuscon, AZ, provided music from the 1940’s. Excitement filled the hangar as active duty personnel had an opportunity to meet the Pearl Harbor Survivors, their families and supporters.
April 2, 2016 – Members of the Chatham High School Class of 1966 had an opportunity to get together to renew acquaintances after 50 years of life beyond high school graduation. The second graduating class after five smaller area schools consolidated (Callands, Climax, Whitmell, Spring Garden and Chatham), the class of 1966 consisted of 119 students, 41 of which attended the event last weekend at the beautiful Chatham Community Center.
Over the last fifty years, the rich tapestry of their lives has had world-wide influence. Some have stayed in Pittsylvania County lifting where they stand while others have spread across the globe.
Class member, Roy Byrd, currently serving as Chatham’s Mayor says, “Ya’ll need to come back to stay.” Kathy Motley Pickeral said, “I’ve probably taught all your kids, if they live in Pittsylvania County.”
Chatham High School class member career choices included civil engineers, hospital administrators, authors, educators and entrepreneurs in addition to raising children to become responsible citizens. Mary Gregory Riddle plans to retire from Coca Cola Company with 45 years of service. Jimmy Giles, serving as a local minister reminded us that “I was the one who used to skip down the hall.”
Members traveled from across Virginia, North & South Carolina, Georgia and Florida for this celebration of life. Troy Lee Thompson traveled from Florida with his new wife, a charming lady.
Ten class members were recognized for their military service.“Our class motto is ‘Live today – tomorrow is too late’,” said 1966 Class President, Ronnie Emerson, “16 class members have passed away over the years.” A special remembrance table was set for them.
Class officers, Mary Gail Motley Easley and Joan Parker Brumfield assisted President Emerson in organizing the event. “It was wonderful to get updates from most of our class members,” said Ms. Brumfield.
Counting all the spouses and significant others in attendance, the group numbered 71. Thankfully the community center has bleachers so we could get everyone in one big group photo.
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In September 2015, the Priesthood Restoration (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) site in Harmony, Pennsylvania was reopened to the public after major reconstruction. We toured the restoration site and created this video.
Located in what was historically known as Harmony, Pennsylvania, the site includes a visitors’ center and meetinghouse, the reconstructed homes of Joseph and Emma Smith and Isaac and Elizabeth Hale. In addition the woods where John the Baptist restored the priesthood, the baptismal site at the Susquehanna River, a trails system, and new statuary have been restored.
Joseph and Emma Smith moved to Harmony in December 1827 to escape persecution for their religious beliefs. They lived with Emma’s parents, Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, until they purchased a nearby home with 13½ acres from Emma’s brother Jesse.
In early April 1829, schoolteacher Oliver Cowdery came to meet Joseph and soon became his scribe. During the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph and Oliver went into the woods and prayed for guidance on the subject of baptism. In reply, the resurrected John the Baptist visited them on May 15, 1829, and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood. He then commanded Joseph and Oliver to baptize each other in the nearby Susquehanna River.
Later, the two received authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood from apostles Peter, James, and John.
While in Harmony, Joseph received 15 divine revelations. These are included in the Doctrine and Covenants. Joseph and Emma Smith moved from Harmony in August 1830. The original home burned down in 1919 and is now reconstructed as part of the site. ~LDS.org
A nearby cemetery contains the Hales plots and Joseph and Emma Smith’s firstborn son. Restoration of the headstones embedded the old, nearly unreadable stones into one side of new granite ones.
Patriotic members of the Pensacola community were recognized at the 2016 Annual Awards Banquet of the Pensacola Chapter of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. Over two hundred guests, including Pensacola’s Mayor Ashton Hayward, attended the event held at Heritage Hall in Seville Quarter on January 26th..
“The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, founded in 1949, celebrates the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights and their relevance to our daily lives. Their goal is to educate and inspire students and their teachers with the words, meaning and emotion that these founding documents convey. The organization utilizes interactive programs that explore our history and debates that focus on Constitutional concepts in this changing world. Each year, the Pensacola Chapter sends high school juniors to participate with the more than 3,000 students from across the country who visit the historic Valley Forge campus to learn about America. The Foundation immerses students in a living history educational experience, that engages them in topics critical to the future of freedom.” (www.freedomsfoundationpensacola.org)
Connie Brown, Vice president of Youth Programs, introduced the six Youth Conference Scholarship winners: Alex Wilson, Ethan-Magnus Redning-Hubbard, David Harrison, Chloe Stibolt, Destiny Lewis, and Dakota Fulton
Petty Officer First Class Alexanna C. Williams, USN received the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge National award for her work directing community volunteerism and leadership among the enlisted personnel stationed on board NAS Pensacola. She is also a recent recipient of the Navy League’s Margaret Flowers Award for personal volunteerism.
Captain Lee Little Hansen, USN, (Ret.) dreamed of and developed a class room program to introduce local students to other cultures. Her program, The Global Corner School Passport creates i n-class curriculum that engages students through hands-on activities and discussions to introduce them to other countries and prepares them for a global world and economy. (The Global Corner)
Pensacola High School International Baccalaureate students, Tristan Wu, William Langhorne, Ariel Noethlich, and Scott McGaugh developed the BackPackUSA program to give backpacks of food to elementary students for them to eat over the weekend – Sponsored by the Escambia County School District Maintenance Department, the Backpack Project’s primary focus is providing food for disadvantaged children in Escambia County elementary schools in order to alleviate stress in our community and allow these children to focus on their studies to create a solid foundation for their futures. Their secondary objective is to raise awareness of childhood hunger and heighten a sense of unity in our communities through public events and activities.
The Pensacola News Journal published a fifteen part World War II Seventieth Anniversary Series written by journalist, Marketta Davis. (Lisa Reese, President/Publisher and Lisa Nellessen-Lara, Executive Editor) “I was in awe talking to these great American Heroes,” said Ms. Davis.
The Juan Sebastian de Elcano Society hosted the Spanish Naval Training Ship, Juan Sebastian de Elcano visit to Pensacola. Dame Maria Davis and Collier Merrill, co-chairpersons, Fiesta of Five Flags accepted the award.
JCDR Cassandra Harrison, NJROTC at Escambia High School received the National Essay Award. The topic for the essay was “Combating Apathy”. As the commander of the junior Reserved Officer Training program at Escambia High school, she had her work cut out for her to keep her cadets motivated.
Artist, Anne Clapsadl, received the Pensacola Chapter Liberty Bell award for her talented contributions creating center pieces for Pensacola Chapter events. Anne’s award was a surprise to her. Family and friends did an outstanding job of keeping a secret.
Composer, Allen Pote and Dr. Jack Flemming and his wife, Carolyn Fleming received the Pensacola Chapter award for Seaplane An All American Musical. This musical, performed around the country, was recently revised and performed at the Saenger Theater in Pensacola.
Pensacola’s favorite story teller, John Appleyard, was honored with the Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr Appleyard has spent many years researching and preserving Pensacola’s historical stories. Born in 1922, this nonagenarian still goes to his office in the John Appleyard Agency every day. An avid historian, he has penned over a dozen books.
“Pensacola at the turn of the century was a very different city from most Southern cities at the time. We had the lumber industry, fishing, the Navy yard. Pensacola was growing like a weed. And you can transpose hardly anything from the past onto [modern times]. So my determination on doing mysteries is that I want people to remember what it was like. That’s why in these short stories, I like to sneak history lessons into each one. So they have a dual purpose — history and mystery,” he said.
Two of the original 26 African-American artists who painted images of serene, undeveloped Florida landscape during the 1950’s – 1980’s held a gallery show in Pensacola. The artists visited CCP Gallery at 126 Palafox Place, over the weekend of April 10, 11, & 12th. Al Black and Sylvester M. Wells together with second generation Highwayman, A. J. Brown displayed their work described their experiences as Florida artists.
Using vivid colors in their paintings under the tutelage of white painter, A. E. “Bean” Backus, these artists painted in their garages and back yards on inexpensive Upson board. On the weekends they would ride the highway (hence the group’s name) selling their paintings to hotels, offices and individuals who loved their work.
The artists received appreciation plaques and proclamations from Mayor Ashton Hayward for their outstanding artistic creations.
Disbanded for a while when art tastes changed, interest in “outsider art” revived in the mid 1990’s and brought the group back together. In 2004 the original 26 Florida Highwaymen were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. They are credited with beginning the “Indian River School” and “Backus” art movements.
“We’re excited to have these renowned artists come to Pensacola to share their artistic experiences and their art,” said CCP gallery partners, Charles Crumpton and Marty Campbell. “My brother bought two of their paintings years ago and gave one to our mom,” Charlie recalled, “our 94 year old mother and my brother flew down from South Carolina to meet the artists responsible for the painting that has hung in her home for the past 44 years.”
CCP Gallery opened in 2014 at 126 Palafox Place, with over 1,100 square feet of gallery space, they provide photo restoration and art print production. Twelve local artists of varied genre have their work on display as well.
Reading is Fundamental and Barnes & Noble booksellers featured a Presidents Day event in Pensacola. During this event local officials, including Mayor Ashton Hayward, Assistant Superintendent of Escambia County Schools, Steve Marcanio, and the co-president of the Pensacola Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Mike Clapsadl, shared fun facts about past United States Presidents.
Students from local Middle Schools, dressed as their favorite U.S. Presidents, competed in a costume contest. The winners were rewarded with their choice of featured President books from Barnes & Noble.
In addition, retired Washington, D.C. police officer and U.S. Deputy Federal Marshall, Robert Nicholson discussed the protective detail for U.S. Presidents and included facts about legal currency, one of the original reasons for the creation of the Secret Service.
Boy Scout Troop 628 and Bugler, Scotty Mills, added patriotic touches providing the presentation of colors and “Taps.”
Reading is Fundamental, Pensacola Chapter, is the longest functioning literacy chapter in the state of Florida. Their program is strongly endorsed by the Escambia County School system. “Putting a book in the hands of a child means transforming the life of that child and everyone around them,” said Escambia Co. Superintendent of Schools, Malcolm Thomas. Federal funding for this program, designed to provide free books to the economically disadvantaged, was eliminated during 2011 budget cuts. All funds for these programs are collected on a local basis. If you would like to donate to this program, contact: rifofPensacola@gmail.com.
Four local scouting groups: Troop 628, Venture Crew 628, Frontier Girls 324, and Cub Scout Pack 499 participated in the flag salute during a recent program honoring the survivors presented at the National Naval Aviation Museum. Hundreds of visitors turned out for that program saw the scouts “strut their stuff,” but with so many others vying for the survivors’ attention, the scouts didn’t have much time to interact with these amazing National Treasures.
At their request for some additional time, program organizer Dianna Roberts, CBTR, Inc. arranged an awards ceremony to present certificates of appreciation to the scouts and included some time for the Pearl Harbor Survivors, Cass Phillips, 94, Bill Braddock, 92, and Frank Emond, 96, to speak with them.
Following the presentation, Scout leader, Rob Works, made a special presentation of Honorary Scout Memberships to the three Pearl Harbor Survivors. Troop 628 and Venture Crew 628 presented honorary membership certificates, troop pins and official hats.
“When I was a child, I wanted to join the Scouts,” recalled survivor, Cass Phillips, “but my parents couldn’t afford the costs for the uniform, so I never got to do it. This membership fulfills a life long dream for me.”
Hundreds turned out at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida on Saturday morning, January 17, 2015, to pay an emotional tribute and farewell to the remaining Pearl Harbor Survivors from the Pensacola area. Local authors and Pearl Harbor historians, Billie and Robert Nicholson, who chronicled the survivors’ return to Pearl Harbor in 2011, were also honored.
As part of the Museum’s Discovery Saturday series, called Remembering Pearl Harbor, the Day and Its Heroes, the program opened with an Invocation offered by retired Navy pilot, Christopher Robinson, Pastor of Deliverance Tabernacle Church in Milton, Florida, followed by the singing of The National Anthem by gospel singer Richard Long, Pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Pensacola.
There was standing room only in the Museum’s Blue Angels atrium hanger as a rapt audience listened to tributes and presentations by Lt. Gen Duane D. Thiessen, USMC (Ret), President and CEO of the Museum’s Foundation, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and Pensacola NAS Commanding Officer Capt. Keith Hoskins, USN.
Surrounded by the Museum’s vintage aircraft hanging overhead, the actual morning of the attack was described in vivid eyewitness accounts by remaining Pearl Harbor Survivors, William Braddock, 92, Cass Phillips, 94, Frank Emond, 96, and Jay Carraway, 92.
Survivor Cass Phillips said when he first noticed the “meatballs” painted on the side of the airplanes flying in, he thought it was just another Sunday morning exercise and commented about how realistic they were – until they started dropping bombs. Over two thousand four hundred Americans lost their lives in the attack.
WCOA 1370 Talk Radio Host Don Parker’s talk, Attack on Battleship Row, December 7th, 1941, included original archival footage and a description of the Japanese high command.
Publicist and emcee Dianna Roberts read the national winning Pearl Harbor essay by 7th grader, Jenny Anderson from Camano Island, WA entitled, Ingenuity, Sacrifice and Teamwork.
Pensacola Naval Air Station commanding officer Capt. Keith Hoskins, USN, spoke about NAS Pensacola during WW II just after the attack when Pensacola NAS mobilized to become the world’s foremost military aviation training center. Hoskins, a former lead solo pilot with the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, called the men, “heroes”, and admitted he was “humbled to be on the same stage as them.”
Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward read a city proclamation honoring the men for their bravery and courage under fire and how they had all sacrificed and fought “so we can sleep well every night.” Recently deceased Pearl Harbor survivors Jim Landis and George Mills were honored posthumously with the sounding of Taps by veteran bugler, Scotty Mills.
The highlight for the men was the reading of their stories from the Nicholson’s book, Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye, by Pensacola honor scouts from Boy Scout Troop 628 and Venture Crew 628 while standing on the stage next to the survivors. “We should remember the motto of these Boy Scouts – ‘Be Prepared’, said survivor Cass Phillips. “We were not prepared for what happened that day. People need to hear these stories and remember our history and learn from it.”
Story Credit: Dianna Roberts