Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Southeast Whitesburg Mural--41 The Big Reveal
Today was the day, the big 20th anniversary celebration and the unveiling of the plaques, the naming of the buildings, the thanking of the donors, and the honoring of the honorees.
Although it was not in the program, the college's president Dr. W. Bruce Ayers asked me to come up and speak. I've known the man for 13 years, and know he likes to do things like that so I'd given at least a few minutes this morning to think about what I might like to say to people, but mostly I spoke what came to me in the moment. I don't entirely remember what I said, but it evidently hit just the right tone, because people kept commenting on it.
There were lots of great moments as people spoke with great emotion about their passion for the college. Our campus exists because a group of dedicated and visionary local people managed to raise a million dollars in donations and pledges in less than one week. Penny Ritter Combs one of stalwarts of this visionary group described clambering up on strip-jobs to get donations from coal companies during that week. The plaque below is a special tribute Penny and her parents Judge James M and Atha Caudill who not only dreamed of a college, but who have continued to work for twenty years to make that dream an on-going reality.
My favorite moment in the ceremony came when a former student of mine, Melanie Watts sang the song "Anyway." Melanie has an extraordinary voice, pure and rich, but she clearly felt this song deeply which made her performance deeply moving. I'd never heard it before, but I can tell you before this day is out I'm going to have a copy of Martina McBride's performance of "Anyway" on my iPod! [The link is to YOUTube video of the McBride performing the song]. The key refrain and guiding idea of the song comes from a poem often attributed to Mother Teresa (because it was inscribed on a wall of Mother Teresa's children's home in Calcutta), but is actually credited to Kent M. Keith and called The Paradoxical Commandments.
So here is the whole thing, finished, with the plaque in place:
The top photo, while taken with my camera was shot by my colleague Ron Brunty, so I could be in the shot. The other photos are by me.