Last weekend featured two events that held up our community’s heritage for respectful recognition. On Saturday, the 11th annual Legends Banquet to benefit the Rufus F. Hardin School and Museum was held, and on Sunday more than a dozen World War II veterans were saluted.
Each event was a noble and worthwhile milestone in the life of this community. But while it’s a delight to feel good about the achievements of the past, each event also offered a feeling of urgency about what is being done.
For the Hardin Museum, there is an urgency about the project has been little more than a dream for more than a decade. Some basic work has been accomplished, and members of the museum’s board said enough funds have been donated to now begin some serious work on the old school building — the focal point for generations of black residents of Brownwood and Brown County during the first part of the 20th century. The structure found other uses for a while after integration in the 1960s, but it has stood vacant — and deteriorating — for much too long. The urgency here is for more area residents to understand the importance of keeping this structure sound and restore it to a functional building that will serve not only the black community, but everyone else in Brown County.
Also for our beloved World War II veterans, the recognition bestowed on them Sunday by the Excalibur Chapter of the Non-Commissioned Officers Association at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene was another in a series of such programs. The medallions are given to World War II veterans who have been identified by themselves or others. Indeed, several of those who have received them without notice stepped out of the audience. The urgency here is that we are losing these men and women daily. All are in their 70s and 80s, and time is not on the side of those who want to say “thank you” again — if not for the first time publicly — before it’s too late. It’s with sadness that we note that one of the honorees passed away just several days before the ceremony; another, two days afterward.
The community is wise to honor the contributions our forebears and our neighbors have made in the past. Their legacy is an inspiration and an example to succeeding generations to continue serving as we approach the future walking in their footsteps.