History teaches a lesson for all to learn

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 9, 2002

This past week has been very meaningful for me on three separate fronts.

The Alabama Legislature made history by passing unprecedented legislation; I made a trip to what many consider the most historical city in our nation; and I participated in a historic gathering in my senate district.

Being a history major in college, I perhaps attach more meaning to all of these things than many others would, but nonetheless I found all of these activities very stimulating and rewarding.

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The legislation passed by the Senate and House of Representatives for the first time successfully reconfigures the state's seven congressional districts. It was necessary to realign these districts because of shifts in populations during the past decade. The new numbers are reflected in the most recent census and have been used to realign the state legislative districts as well.

The new law has to go now to the U.S. Justice Department for review. It must clear federal approval before the scheduled close of party qualifying in early April for the June 4 primary. A bipartisan effort to get this law approved will be led by the Republican Attorney General, Bill Pryor, and his staff.

The bill, as passed by the Alabama Legislature, mainly makes one major change, that being in the third congressional district which is presently being vacated by Congressman Bob Riley who is running for governor of Alabama. Those changes include moving part of Montgomery County into the third district and most of St. Claire County into the fourth district.

A federal judge in Mobile has under consideration a lawsuit filed several weeks ago requesting the court to redraw the districts, but in a public statement on the floor of the legislature, Speaker Seth Hammett said "passage of the bill by both Houses (as we have done) will make the lawsuit moot."

The trip I took was to Philadelphia, Penn., home of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional Convention. I got to ring the Liberty Bell, I sat in the chair where John Adams took the oath of office to succeed George Washington as President of the United States, and I observed the chamber where the Declaration of Independence was debated and finally signed in 1776.

I did not fully appreciate the importance of this second inauguration of a president until this past week when I stood on the spot of the inauguration at Independence Hall.

This was the first transfer of power in a peaceful manner between two living individuals in the history of the world. Kings and queens, dictators, czars, emperors, and the like, who, for the most part have ruled nations since the beginning of time, either must die or be killed in order to be replaced, yet our democratic form of government, represented by the transfer of power in the presidency, is novel to America and a free society.

To see the sites where all of this history unfolded and which set the stage for what we have today was a very special experience.

On Saturday evening, I had the privilege of participating in a banquet to help raise funds for young people who desire to go to college or otherwise further their education but have no means to do so. The United Citizens Council of Crenshaw County hosted this dinner and my colleague, Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, was the principal speaker. Senator Sanders delivered a stirring message about the importance of education for our youth.

I was introduced to the group by a charming lady, Helen Saffold, of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service in Luverne. Helen does an outstanding job for our youth through 4-H and the other programs of the extension system office.

While we are in session, you can reach me at 334-242-7883, and remember, "I'll go with you or I'll go for you" to help you solve any problem related to state government.