Alabama governor comes to library to unveil plaque for local artist

Published 5:27 pm Monday, September 30, 2019

VALLEY — Gov. Kay Ivey will likely be remembered as Alabama’s bicentennial governor. Her first official action after being sworn in as governor in 2017 was to attend a kickoff event in Mobile to start a three-year celebration of Alabama becoming a state. Alabama became a U.S. territory in 1817 and a state on Dec. 14, 1819.

Her current goal is to visit all 67 counties in the state before Bicentennial Day and to invite everyone to a huge celebration that will be taking place in Montgomery.

“I’m sure it’s going to be one great party,” she told a standing-room-only crowd on Monday at Bradshaw-Chambers County Library.

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The governor was at the library Monday for some special recognitions. She unveiled a plaque honoring sculptor Chuck Moore of Valley for the Sarge and Scrappy statue that’s on display on the library grounds, hailed six local World War II veterans as members of the Greatest Generation, presented a proclamation recognizing the American Legion and saluted Valley’s Dixie Boys team on winning a World Series title this past summer.

Ivey was introduced to the crowd by State Rep. Debbie Wood.

“I am so honored to introduce her,” she said. “And I am so pleased for State Sen. Randy Price and State Rep. Bob Fincher to be here today. I thank them for their leadership and the representation they have given our area. Elected officials serve every day. Our governor put that sense of leadership in us. She chose to step up and say that we have to seek service in this state. It may be years before we will see any of that, but she has been a true leader for our state.”

Ivey received a standing ovation as she walked to the lectern to speak to the large assemblage. Following up on Wood’s remarks about serving the people, Ivey asked the crowd if they knew the difference between a politician and a statesman.

“A politician is worried about the next election,” she said. “A statesman is worried about everyone’s future.”

Ivey said she’d been to every corner of Alabama meeting people and talking about the state’s bicentennial.

She commended Chuck Moore for his artistic talent and said she liked that he was depicting two-legged (Sarge) and four-legged heroes (Scrappy) in his sculpture outside the library.

The American Legion will be celebrating its centennial this year. It was formed in Paris, France by officers and men of the American Expeditionary Force and chartered by Congress in September 1919. In 1944, the Legion played a leading role in drafting legislation widely known as the GI Bill.

“Over the years, members of the American Legion have raised millions of dollars to help their fellow veterans in need,” Ivey said in presenting a proclamation to Lanny Bledsoe, commander of Legion Post 67 in Valley.

Recognizing a U.S. Marines logo on his shirt, the governor greeted him with “Semper fi!”

Ivey then recognized a group of WWII veterans seated on the front row. They included Ed Davis, Bill Hayes, John Lyons, Howard Kitchens, Bernard Paschal and Walt Okrutny. Also recognized but not present was Yancey Sanders.

“Each one of you is a member of our country’s Greatest Generation,” she said. “We should never forget what your generation did to defend our nation and to protect our freedoms.”

Turning to members of the Dixie Youth champs, Ivey said she had followed them on social media and was pleased with the way they represented Alabama in the World Series, held in Lumberton, North Carolina.

“We are so proud of you for what you did and the way you have represented our state,” Ivey said.

Ivey invited everyone to come to Montgomery on Dec. 14 for what promises to be a grand celebration.

“God bless every one of you and God bless the great state of Alabama,” she said in concluding remarks.

She received a standing ovation and stayed a little longer to have photos taken with Moore, the WWII vets and the Dixie Youth team.

“Many thanks to everyone for coming out to celebrate 200 years of Alabama history,” said Librarian Mary Hamilton. “We invite you to see some of Chuck Moore’s work that’s on display here in the library and to look at our exhibit of Chambers County history that’s on display.”