Daphanie Kinlow couldn't hold back the tears Friday night as Thomson Mayor Bob Knox sniffled through a proclamation naming it Sgt. James Kinlow day.
On the field at the Brickyard, and with her children at her side, Sgt. Kinlow's widow was overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support since her husband was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on July 24.
From left, Thomson City Councilman Rev. John Smalley, City Councilman and former 48th Brigade soldier Mike Carrington, Chelsea Kinlow, Daphanie Kinlow, Chauncey Kinlow and Thomson Mayor Bob Knox listen to the Bulldog Brigade play during a ceremony prior to Friday night's Thomson High School football game.
"I thought that it was a tremendous honor," said Mrs. Kinlow, a Lincoln County native who moved to Thomson in 1998. "It just amazed me how Thomson reached out and appreciated my husband for what he did, and we're not native Thomson people."
Prior to the game, the team donned the emblem of Sgt. Kinlow's unit, the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Brigade, on their helmets along with the U.S. flag in honor of the soldier. His son Chauncey is a sophomore defensive lineman.
In addition to the proclamation and the stickers on the helmet, Thomson City Councilman Mike Carrington read a letter from Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver, commanding officer of the 48th.
"I write to you to say with pride and honor that I served with Sgt. James Kinlow," the letter stated. "He was a man who understood the seriousness of being a soldier, but never missed an opportunity to make us laugh.¬†He worked harder than any soldier on the team, to make sure that he was completely ready to do his best, when it was his turn to conduct his missions. And he loved the Thomson Bulldogs.
"...The tribute that you pay to him, and to the rest of the 48th Brigade by wearing our patch on your helmet, would symbolize one of the things that I think he cherished the most, and that was being part of a team... Tonight, with this dedication, James has brought us all together to be on his team."
Mr. Carrington said reading the letter to Sgt. Kinlow's family was an extremely difficult thing to do, but necessary.
"It was one of those things that I felt like I had to do, I felt like that needed to be done," said Mr. Carrington, who also used to serve in the 48th. "The man needed to be honored. His family needed to know that we're behind them."
Mrs. Kinlow was thankful for the support and for the ceremony before the game that honored her husband. She is also grateful for the ongoing encouragement shown to her son by the football team.
"I think the coaches and the entire football program over there has just kind of treated him like he was family anyway, but stepped in and tried to, in a small way, replace some of the leadership and the guidance that he would have gotten from his father," she said.
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