Editorials: Flames again going to bat for veterans
Mar 30, 2014 | 738 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ask the average Cleveland or Bradley County resident — especially those who are blessed to call it home — to describe this community in a series of familiar catch phrases, and some of the responses surely will include:

Faith-based;

Sports-minded;

Hard-working;

People-centered;

Family-friendly;

Increasingly multicultural;

Volunteer-oriented;

Economically balanced between income levels;

Conservative in view yet open to new ideas;

Respectful of the past but eager to lay new footprints along a path of progress;

Willing to change but not without forethought; and

Patriotic.

Let us repeat the latter because it has long told the story of what lies in the hearts of most Cleveland and Bradley County residents: Patriotic.

Many examples defend this position: Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day and the Fourth of July come to mind quickly. Another is the planning for a modest Veterans Memorial Park near the Spring Creek development, an initiative that stirs the conscience and warms the hearts of many local residents including Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland.

In short, this community loves and holds a deep respect for its veterans. This has been the prevailing sentiment for generations. We pray it doesn’t change any time soon.

To sustain this level of homage for Bradley County’s estimated 8,000 veterans — 680 of whom are disabled — will require the spirit of Cleveland’s young people.

It is a conviction that lends itself to Cleveland’s billing as “The City With Spirit.” And that spirit can be found communitywide and throughout our local school systems, our university and community college, and certainly within our institutions of private education.

One example is Lee University athletics. These inspiring Flames and Lady Flames continue to grow a tradition of community activism and a carefully nurtured conviction for civic cause.

Now a proud member of NCAA Division II whose teams compete in the prestigious Gulf South Conference, these young athletes are developing a reputation for helping others. For instance, the ladies of volleyball annually host their “Volley for a Cure.” The basketball players offer “Hoops for Hope,” and the soccer teams each year lead “Kicking it for Cancer.”

The school’s newest cause among its fine athletes is Military Appreciation Day, a second-year initiative coordinated through the men’s baseball team and head coach Mark Brew. In its debut last year, this doubleheader day of festivities raised $10,000 to support the development of the Veterans Memorial Park which will be a next-door neighbor to the sprawling college campus.

This year, the baseball team has selected the local Disabled American Veterans chapter as its cause. Through sponsorships, T-shirt sales and other fundraising activities prior to and on game day, the Lee baseballers hope to raise $15,000 for the local DAV group.

It is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.

Last year’s lead sponsor has already staked claim to the same role. Bank of Cleveland, whose founder and chairman Bobby Taylor was a veteran, has stepped up and the respected, civic-minded company encourages others to do the same.

Christy Griffith, senior vice president, points out many of the bank’s customers, clients and friends also are veterans. Military Appreciation Day lands close to Griffith’s heart as well. Her dad was a veteran of the war in Vietnam.

Area residents can support the Lee University and Bank of Cleveland cause by purchasing a T-shirt for $10 at the Bank of Cleveland’s downtown branch, the Cleveland Daily Banner or Jenkins’ Deli. Sponsorships or coupon donations are also encouraged.

For more information about Military Appreciation Day, or how a business, organization, school or individual can get involved, contact Brew at 614-8638 or send an email to mbrew@leeuniversity.edu.

And this brings us to yet another descriptor that best describes those who call Cleveland and Bradley County their home: Caring.

“The City With Spirit” would have it no other way.