The joys of having a hometown -- and how to help it flourish

  • Follow Opinion columns

One of my favorite stories goes back to my experience as I entered the fourth grade in Richmond, Va. My father was a professional soldier. From 1935 to 1944, my family had lived in New York, Panama, Virginia, Kansas, Hawaii, California, Minnesota, Ohio and North Carolina. By the summer of 1944, it was time to move again – this time to Virginia.

On that first day of school, at Westhampton Elementary School, the school bully stuck his finger in my chest, and said in a
menacing way, “Buddy, where are you from?”

I TOLD HIM that I didn’t know. He said, “Well, Buddy, you gotta be from somewhere.” Since my father’s hometown was Zanesville, Ohio, I replied, “I guess I am from Zanesville.” The bully shot back, “Where is that?” I said, “Ohio.” He then said, “Does that mean you are a Yankee?” Not understanding the implications of my answer, I replied, “I guess so.”

In the meantime, another boy had knelt down directly behind me. The bully then said, “This is the way we treat Yankees.” He pushed me hard. I tumbled over the kneeling boy and landed on my head. Soon I began to think that it would be awfully nice to have a real hometown – preferably one that was in the South.

Twenty-two years ago, my wife, Connor, and I moved to Augusta. At last, I have a hometown, and happily it is in the South. The chances of landing on my head anytime in the future have seriously diminished. Hallelujah!

Augusta always had been Connor’s hometown. Her father, Jimmie Dyess, and her stepfather, Charlie Goodrich, were Augustans who served in the military, so moving around the country was part of her life, starting in November 1940, when Jimmie Dyess was called to active duty in the Marines.

Connor’s father and stepfather – as well as her grandfather, Maurice Dyess, and her uncle, Dr. Hervey Cleckley – had made significant contributions to Augusta and beyond. Hence, Connor has roots deep in the Augusta soil.

On March 15, 1990, we left very chilly northern Virginia and arrived to a wonderfully warm Augusta. The trees and flowers were in full bloom. The welcome we received from friends and neighbors was so generous that, within a few days, we knew that we had made the right decision – to make Augusta our permanent home.

SINCE MOVING here, one of my great pleasures has been my involvement in community affairs. Serving on the boards of a number of nonprofit organizations has given me the opportunity to work closely with many civic-minded citizens.

In addition, I have thought a great deal about the future of Augusta. Here are two of my conclusions:

• As the CSRA faces an uncertain future, we just cannot rely on the federal, state or local governments to solve many of our problems. Nonprofit organizations generally operate more efficiently, take actions more quickly and stay closer to the real needs of our citizens than governmental administrations.

• If Augusta is to thrive in the future, more people need to spend more of their time and discretionary income supporting good causes. Although I have encountered many generous people, some folks refuse to dig deep into their pockets to provide strong financial support to worthy enterprises. Hopefully, they will soon start making a sincere and sustained effort to help.

So what organizations should you support with your time, your creativity and your financial support? There are many that deserve assistance, but I would like to suggest three and give you a specific way to assist in each case:

• Make a donation to the Augusta Warrior Project. Either call (706) 434-1707 or go to its website – – and click on “monthly donation.” The PayPal system is a cool way to donate painlessly.

• Join the Augusta Museum of History and keep your membership up to date year to year.
Please call the museum at (706) 722-8454.

• Purchase a seat or two for the upcoming Nov. 2 gala Boy Scout dinner. To be in the presence of honored guest, Medal of Honor recipient Barney Barnum, will be a special treat. Call soon – (706) 733-5277.

HERE’S A GENERAL guideline for financial contributions to worthy civic nonprofit organizations. After making your contribution to your church or temple, commit 1 percent of your gross income to worthy and well-managed civic institutions. If you can exceed 1 percent, as many do, that would be grand and deeply appreciated.

(The writer – a retired U.S. Air Force major general – serves on the boards of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, the Augusta Warrior Project and the Augusta Museum of History. His email address is His web site is

Comments (0) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
soapy_725 10/21/12 - 11:01 am
My family has made St Paul's Parish home

for 238 years. Family members have fought in every conflict from the French and Indian War. Bullies are equal opportunity abusers, North or South.

One personal opinion.

What Augusta needs is to be truthful about its history. A history that dates beyond the influx of military families stationed at Camp/Fort Gordon. Have those who feel they have been treated unfairly sit toe to toe with each other and bare their souls. Admit to the wrongs of both sides. And there is blame on both sides. Refuse to leave until all of the "dirty laundry" has been cleaned by the truth. The truth about a southern town and its flawed human, greedy, self centered citizens.

That's a start. Confess, repent and move forward as one interest.

We would have though you would have had other choices for charity? But the affiliation part.

Perhaps an organization that specialized in changing the hearts and minds of sinful people one at a time. A church is number one.

Augusta Wounded Warriors is worthwhile, definitely. But it is duplication of The Wounded Warrior Project. Duplication in charity diminished the effectiveness and raises the overhead cost (administrators) to the point of contact service.

The Salvation Army outreach to the hungry, naked, homeless, addicted, misguided souls should have been on your list. Most efficient charity.

Golden Harvest Food Bank. Feeds the hungry without respecter of persons. Transparent fiances.

Lynndale, Inc. A definite need.

The museum? The arts? If they are wanted, they will self support.

Scouts pay for everything. Personally, at the point of service. Great opportunity for responsibility training. To much overhead for a charity.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
AU professor doing research on Gulf War health disparities
An Augusta University professor is being funded to do research on the health disparities of female veterans involved in the first Gulf War compared to their male counterparts.