Patriotism in the heart (of Texas)

As the new mayor of Brady, I have a unique and new relationship with Brady. Since moving to the small town 10 years ago, I have migrated from my big city ideas and views about what the town does or does not have and now, all I think about are all of the things that make Brady the place I am proud to call home. This weekend, the parade, the fireworks, the barbecue and visiting with Tommy Langseth and his family are just part of that reason. My family and I were all in Rockport for much of last week. We took a mini-vacation and headed to the coast for some much-needed rest, relaxation and fishing. We arrived home Friday evening just in time to head out to the lake to catch the fireworks. Now, I can honestly say that I have seen fireworks displays of all sizes. I have stood on the steps of the nation’s capitol in Washington D.C., I have seen fireworks over Civil War battlefields and more recently, seen them over the Texas coast at Rockport. All of them were great, but I felt at home right here in Brady as we parked next to friends and neighbors and listened to the music over the radio and watched what we termed as “our own private fireworks show.” That’s really what it felt like. Sure there was a wait to get back on the main road to come home, but within 10 minutes we were at our home and getting ready for bed. Small town at its finest. Unfortunately, our travel plans did not allow us to be here for Tommy Langseth’s official arrival, but from looking at the photos, it was another testimony to the small town attitude that makes Brady a wonderful place to call home. This was my first year to ever officially take part in the parade in a capacity other than snapping photos. And I could not have been more proud to be several floats behind our grand marshal. I arrived at the lineup for the parade a little early and was fortunate to have Tommy and his parents all to myself for a few minutes of visiting. I must say, a lump was in my throat as I struggled for the words of appreciation to tell Tommy. It was the same feeling I get whenever I visit with any veteran. A feeling of debt and gratitude for their time, effort and sacrifice so I can call Brady home. I have eaten dinner with World War II prisoners of war. I have visited with veterans who have seen what is written about in history books. I will always cherish any opportunity I get to thank any veteran for their service to this country. I was fortunate enough this week to sit at a kitchen table with Tommy Langseth and his family and talk about his future plans. Only a few weeks ago, I sat at that same table and talked with his parents as they worried about their son’s life after receiving word he had been injured in the Iraq War. I told Tommy on Monday that I had thanked God I was talking to him about his injuries and his plans for the future rather than talking about his memory or his parents’ plans for his funeral. His father, Mack, put it simply’God had his hand in keeping Tommy alive when that bomb went off. I got to know Tommy in high school as I saw him on a regular basis on the sidelines at every sporting event. Since then, I have visited with him on any number of occasions from his first decision to go to college to when he returned home and decided to go into the military. Tommy told me Monday that he has no regrets about any decisions he has made. He said that he knows that God works in mysterious ways and that he has a plan for him. I am glad he knows where the truth lies and that he has his priorities in the right place. As a journalist, I sometimes take the liberty of being a little more nosey than others. I asked Tommy and his family some very direct and personal questions, all of which they answered. Not all of those answers will make it to print. Those are the bits of life that I treasure that are personal to me and what I do for a profession. Those bits of information help me make decisions about what to write’ and what not to write. Pfc. Langseth has a long road ahead of him. He plans to get back into shape by hitting the gym as soon as this week. Looking down the road, he already can’t wait to get past his upcoming surgeries. He told me that after considering his options, he figured one tour of duty in Iraq and a serious injury from a bomb was enough military experience for him. He plans to re- enroll in college an get a kineseology degree and one day become a high school coach. Kudos to you, Tommy, keep your nose to the grindstone, learn each and every day and thanks for making it home safely. And thank you Brady, for making this town a place I am proud to call home.’JS

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