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FBC Trussville library honors military with special display comment (0)

July 3, 2014

By June Mathews

FBC Trussville library honors military with special display

July is typically a busy time of year for the library team at First Baptist Church, Trussville. The team scrambles to locate, check out, check in and reshelve books for the church’s annual summer reading program. But this year the library is abuzz for a different reason — the Wall of Freedom.

Team member JoAnn Mitchell said, “Lots of times when I’m driving in the car, the Lord puts ideas in my head and this (was) one of them.

“Trussville is very patriotic, and many members of our church come in their uniforms for the Fourth of July and different patriotic days. But we hadn’t done anything patriotic (in the library) in a long time. I thought it would be nice to honor the people who help preserve our freedom,” Mitchell said.

So instead of making plans for a summer reading program the library team made plans to create the Wall of Freedom on which the names of church-connected military personnel, past and present, could be mounted. A call for names went out via the church’s newsletter and worship guides in late May, and according to library director Connie Horsley the response has been overwhelming.

“We thought one tiny little piece of a wall would be all we needed, but it’s grown to nearly 700 names,” Horsley said. “We asked church members to sign up for themselves or any member of their immediate family who had ever served in the military, living or deceased. We expected to get a few hundred names, but 529 names were submitted the first day.”

Military memorabilia

In addition to the impressive list of names covering an entire wall of the library and spilling over onto nearby soffit space, a wide array of military memorabilia is displayed all over the library.

“We have things dating back to World War I,” Horsley said. “One of the more unusual items is a huge scorpion that was crawling in the shower with one of our military church members when he was serving in Desert Storm. He scooped it up and eventually encased it in a paperweight to preserve it.

“We even have a picture of a change in command during the 1960s that has Princess Grace in it and another picture of the same ceremony that has the king and queen of Greece in it.”

Among the veterans being honored on the Wall of Freedom is Gordon Harvey, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and the 117th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard. The first time he saw his name on the wall was an emotional moment for him.

“It’s a great honor and I’m really proud of it,” Harvey said. “I’m a very patriotic man and proud to have served, so this means the world to me.

“And once you’ve served in any branch of the military, it’s sort of a brotherhood. I would have never guessed that we had this many (members of the military) right here in our church.”

Richard Bailey, who currently serves with the 117th, said he feels equally honored to be listed on the Wall of Freedom, not to mention appreciative of the bit of family insight it gives his preteen son, Daniel.

“I think it’s great that my son can come and look at the wall and not only see my name on it, but my dad’s and my grandfather’s and my father-in-law’s names too,” Bailey said. “He gets a sense of that history, that lineage.

“I think it’s cool for [my son] to see that the people who came before him stepped up.”

Current plans call for the Wall of Freedom and military memorabilia to remain on display through the July 4 holiday weekend. 

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