Celebration time at the history museum

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This new year marks the 75th anniversary of the Augusta Museum of History. To kick off the year of celebration there are two important events coming very soon.

The Jimmie Dyess Symposium is 5 p.m. Jan. 12, at the museum on the corner of Sixth and Reynolds streets in downtown Augusta. To be honored on this special day are former U.S. Rep. Doug Barnard Jr. and Medal of Honor recipient Col. Bruce Crandall.

So often in life, we forget to honor special people during their lifetimes. Only when we learn of their passing do we pound ourselves on the foreheads and say, “Why didn’t we thank them before it was too late?” Eulogies at funerals are fine, but timely thank-yous are much better.

ON JAN. 12, hundreds of people will assemble to praise, honor and salute two good men who have given so much to their country and their community.

Mr. Barnard has had a long and productive life. Born in Augusta in 1922, he graduated from The Academy of Richmond County in 1939. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army in Europe. Later he had a distinguished career in banking and in public service, as executive secretary to Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders, as a member of the Georgia Board of Transportation and as an eight-term U.S. congressman.

When Doug retired from Congress in 1993, his commitment to the public continued. He became one of the key leaders in forming the Community Foundation of the CSRA.

Doug also played a major leadership role in establishing a wounded warrior support program in our area. He opened many doors in Washington so that Laurie Ott, Jim Hull, Clay Boardman and a number of others could build what has become the gold standard in care for our wounded warriors and veterans, the Augusta Warrior Project.

Bruce Crandall is flying into Augusta from his home near Seattle to receive the 2012 Symposium’s second Distinguished American Award. During the Vietnam War, he flew more than 900 combat missions. He earned America’s two highest awards for combat heroism, the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross. Crandall was portrayed by Greg Kinnear in the award-winning movie We Were Soldiers.

AFTER RETIRING from the Army, Crandall continued his life of public service as the city manager of a small California city, and later as the head of the large public works department of Mesa, Ariz.

This Dyess event will run from 5 to 6 p.m. It will have a strong patriotic flavor, the speeches will be short and the chance to spend some time with two wonderfully warm and humble people will be very special. Also in attendance will be Jimmie Dyess’s daughter, Connor Dyess Smith. Attendance is free.

As a special treat for all who attend the Dyess event, a short video will be shown in the auditorium on the second floor of the museum. It will highlight the life stories of Mr. Barnard and Col. Crandall. This 35-minute video will be shown twice, at 4:15 p.m. and at 6:30. Those who attend the 4:15 showing will have time to attend the main event at 5.

THIS SECOND upcoming museum event of note – Museum Memories, Celebrating 75 Years – will take place this week. The director of the museum, Nancy Glaser, will make a presentation Jan. 4 in the Museum History Center. Her talk will explain how the museum has evolved since its doors were opened in April 1937. Nancy will review previous directors, exhibitions and what the museum has collected over time. It should be a fascinating talk and will run from 12:30 to 1 p.m. The lecture is free to museum members and $3 for nonmembers.

I encourage those who attend these events to spend some time visiting the museum. I especially recommend a visit to the second floor to view the new Local Legends exhibit, as well as the exhibits that honor James Brown and Jimmie Dyess.

I look forward to seeing everyone who attends each of these kickoff events for the museum’s yearlong 75th anniversary celebration.

(The writer, a retired U.S. Air Force major general, is the president of the board of trustees of the Augusta Museum of History; secretary of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation; and a board member of the Augusta Warrior Project.)


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