Your opinion: Dec. 31, 2016
After the dust settles
When it comes to living through a tragedy, there’s no place like home. The events of the past weeks could have crippled this town beyond words, but I believe the opposite is beginning to happen. We are coming together as a community the way only small-town folks can do.
I had a suspicion of this when I lost my job several years ago. I came home from the office with my possessions in a box and friends and neighbors had already started to arrive. It was like a wake, except no one was dead. It was a night-watch, just the same. My friends gathered around me to console me in a genuine time of loss.
Likewise, although much more grave in comparison, the townspeople of Americus sprang into action on word that two of our finest had been shot. In the ensuing hours our fine citizens, for the most part, obeyed the request by the police that we stay at home with the doors locked. When we arrived back home from Atlanta, the streets of Americus were deserted.
In short order, citizens, merchants and restaurateurs came forth with food to feed the multitude of law enforcement in town from all over the state. Just plain old good deeds from plain old good folks amassed that great amount of food that fed these tireless workers, with plenty to spare.
When the hunt was finally over and the perpetuator was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, this village kept moving. Countless lives were affected by this tragedy: The families of the two fallen officers will never get over this. They’ve lost these two dear souls and nothing can replace them. Even the family of the shooter has lost a son and a grandson and God only knows what else. We need to be able to grieve for them, also.
The tragedy of this past Wednesday is compounded for me by the loss of two good friends: George Bagley and Marshall Welch. These two men were leaders of the community and, most of all, dear to their families and friends. Those of us who called them “friend” will truly miss both, but those families will be cared for emotionally and spiritually, as well.
That’s what makes Americus great. Sure, we have big-time problems but I wouldn’t swap all those problems for the anonymity of life in the big city. We know our neighbors. We see our friends on the sidewalk or on our front porches or at the grocery store. We are close because we live so close.
We are so fortunate to live in a place that not only knows how to grieve, but also how to uphold our neighbors and friends. I am so glad that, almost 13 years ago, we decided to sell out in Atlanta and move to this flawed, but wonderful little town.
God bless us all. God Bless Americus.
Congratulations and thanks to Judge Peagler
On behalf of the State Bar of Georgia, I wish to extend congratulations and thanks to longtime Southwestern Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge George M. Peagler Jr. on his retirement from full-time judicial service effective Dec. 31.
During his distinguished career of 41 years in Georgia’s legal profession and justice system, Judge Peagler was engaged in the private practice of law for more than two decades prior to joining the Superior Court bench for the Southwestern Circuit, covering Lee, Macon, Schley, Stewart, Sumter and Webster counties, in 2000. He is also a past president of the Southwestern Circuit Bar Association and the Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce and a recipient of the Chief Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service.
All members of the State Bar of Georgia are grateful for the dedicated service of Judge Peagler and are inspired by his many contributions toward strengthening the foundations of our justice system, which protects the rights and liberties of all Americans. We wish him well in the years ahead.
Patrick T. O’Connor
President, State Bar of Georgia
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