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Honorees show our Spirit#039;

Governor and Mrs. Bob Riley hosted the first annual &uot;Spirit of Alabama Award Ceremony&uot; this past week in the old House Chamber of the State Capitol.

This was a delightful diversion from the hectic pace I have kept getting ready for the beginning of the Regular Legislative Session which began this week.

I was honored to be invited to this ceremony and have the opportunity to mix and mingle with some outstanding Alabamians.

The presentation of the medals by Gov. Riley was done in alphabetical order of the honorees, and the first recipient was Johnnie Carr of Montgomery.

Mrs. Carr is 93 years of age and has been a lifelong civil rights leader.

She counted Rosa Parks among her friends and was an active supporter of the Montgomery bus boycott when Ms. Parks was the focal point for that civil rights activity.

Mrs. Carr has contributed significantly not only to the Civil Rights movement but to her church, community and state.

I have been acquainted with Mrs. Carr for many years and I know her to be a wonderful, committed individual who is a true example of compassion and generosity.

The next group recognized was the singing legends, &uot;Alabama&uot;, who hail from DeKalb County and have never left their roots despite their national and international fame.

This group is composed of Randy Owen, Mark Herndon, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook.

In acknowledging the award, Randy Owen stated he was not a speaker but knew how to sing.

So they sang the popular song, &uot;My Home’s In Alabama.&uot;

Obviously it brought the house down.

The third recipient was Lt. General Harold G. Moore of Opelika.

You will recall that he led troops into battle in Vietnam in the very first military engagement there.

The battle was so brutal and so significant that a movie was made of his heroics entitled &uot;We Were Soldiers.&uot;

General Moore is truly an American Hero and if you have not seen the movie, I would recommend it to you.

The fourth award was given posthumously to Johnny Michael Spann.

His father accepted the award.

Michael Spann was the first casualty of the war on terrorism and is from the Muscle Shoals area of Northwest Alabama.

The final award was given to Rueben Studdard, the American Idol with whom we are all now familiar.

Rueben sang the National Anthem at a recent National Football League playoff game and did an outstanding job.

He is quite a talent and the state of Alabama can be proud of his achievements.

This ceremony was quite impressive.

I applaud Governor Riley for initiating the Spirit of Alabama Awards, and it is my understanding that it will be an annual event.

There are many deserving Alabamians for this award.

We live in a state which is rich in talent and patriotism.

If you know of any person you would like to recommend for the award, please let me know and I will pass it along to Governor Riley.

This time next week the annual legislative session will be in full swing, and I will give you a first hand report on what is taking center stage this session.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.