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No Title 877

“Have a good day” conveys more
Editor’s note: the following essay was written by Kelly Patrice Pate, staff writer for the Fort Campbell Courier, and was originally published in the Courier.

“All I’ve done is give you a book. You have to have the courage to read what’s inside it.”
—Freida Joy Riley, quoted in Homer Hickam’s memoir October Sky

There’s nothing odd about a guard telling you as you come through the gate at 7:50 a.m. to “have a good day.” Radio thumping, ID ready, and window down, you come to expect it.

But there was a morning back in January when the greeting was uncommon somehow.

Something made me take a second look at the guard. She had a confidence that loaded the words with something more than surface-level remark. I gathered she was going to have a good day whether I did or not, and something else: if I didn’t, it was my own fault.

What I heard in her brief words was my mother Janice’s incorrigible spirit, in the familiar line she said to me every time I headed off to school as a kid. There was a certain way she wielded the words. Have a good day. Like… Don’t waste this opportunity. Here’s a brand-new chance to do your best and learn something. Give it all you’ve got today.

Something in her tone had that same little motherly punch: …because if you don’t, I may just beat you until you can’t grow anymore.

I had just started working on post, and hers was the first of a series of Fort Campbell voices that have delivered something I needed to hear. I began to think that the quality of experiences we have is in large part what we bring to them. It still felt more natural for me to hold a red pen and grade book than a tape recorder and camera. Maybe, in interviewing these people, I was listening for a reason as well as a good lead.

It affected me when a teary-eyed DoDEA teacher of the year talked about the inspiration she had found at space camp in the story of Homer Hickam, former NASA engineer and best-selling author of October Sky, and how she intended to extend that to her own students.

A soldier who had just returned from Iraq reminded me of how powerful it is to believe in something larger than ourselves. I stared at a photo he took of a tree cut down by a rocket-propelled grenade that could have killed him.

In ways, the stories I’ve covered have spoken to me personally. Someone said, “We read to know we are not alone.” Perhaps we live for that same affirmation.

In so many interviews on post, I’ve been fortunate to listen to real people with real stories. In every one of them there has been something, or someone, extraordinary.

Maybe there are people in our lives, like my mother, who, without our even realizing it, fuel our good intentions, making us be our better selves.

Maybe instead of simply reminiscing, when we find ourselves turning over a new leaf again, we should let the words that molded us speak on.

That lady guard had no idea what cinematography went reeling in my head with her simple greeting. In that moment something in the universe chastened me, in the words of a guard.

Have a good day.

Bands of brass
The 15th annual Great American Brass Band Festival takes place in Danville Saturday, June 12, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and at the Centre College Main Stage from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 13.

The festival is a weekend of old-fashioned family entertainment, with most events free of charge. It kicks off with a traditional pre-festival Chautauqua tea Thursday afternoon. Other pre-festival events include the Danville Antique & Garden Show Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as the Thursday night season premiere of Danville’s Pioneer Playhouse. On Friday the Band History Conference will bring scholars and fans together, this year to examine the life, music, and influence of composer John Philip Sousa.

The festival begins in earnest Saturday morning with a New Orleans-style parade down Main Street that traditionally ends with the crowd marching behind the Olympia Brass Band to the Main Stage on the Centre College lawn. Saturday evening the Great American Picnic features prizes for the most festive and elaborate table decorations in categories such as Most Patriotic, Most Humorous, and the Julia Child Award, followed by fireworks.

Sunday morning an ecumenical worship service will feature brass band music and a community choir.

For more information, phone (859) 236-7794 or go online to www.danvillekentucky.com.

Mower safety
Each year, the simple task of mowing the lawn results in thousands of injuries to adults and children.

Lawn mower injuries include loss of fingers and toes, broken bones, cuts, and eye injuries, and can be devastating to a family.

Proper safety precautions can go a long way toward eliminating these injuries, says Larry Piercy, safety specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Those precautions begin before the lawn mower ever cuts a blade of grass.

First, be sure all the safety equipment on the mower is in good condition. If it is in poor condition, replace the equipment prior to operation.

“The start of the season is also a good time to check the lawn for any hazards such as metal, sticks, or other items,” Piercy says.

If young people will be using the equipment, be sure they are physically capable. If the handle of a push mower is too high, they will not have proper control and pushing will be difficult. Be sure to emphasize safety with youth and oversee their work until you are sure they are capable of safely handling the chore, he says.

The following tips are compiled from information from Piercy, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

• Keep children and pets out of the yard when mowing.

• Wear proper clothing such as sturdy shoes and long pants.

• Don’t cut the grass when it is wet. Wet clippings can clog the discharge chute, jam the blades, and shut down the engine.

• Push the mower forward, never backward.

• When using a push mower, cut across the slope. If using a riding mower, drive up and down the slope.

• Never carry passengers.

• Refuel the mower only after the engine cools and disconnect the spark plug when servicing the mower.

• Make sure your walk-behind mower has a rear skirt to catch debris slung backward at your feet.

• The AAP recommends children younger than 14 should not be allowed to use riding mowers, and children younger than 12 should not be allowed to use push mowers.

—Laura Skillman, UK Extension Office

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