Tuesday night, McDuffie County Superintendent Mark Petersen stood at the lectern and spoke of everyday heroes.
He took time during his opening remarks at McDuffie County's Teacher of the Year banquet to talk about those heroes that make a difference every day in the classroom, despite the machinations of the world and the hurdles they face.
It's these teachers, he said, that are making the American dream what it is: a little something that is attainable for everyone.
And in the crowd, Seymone Terrelonge smiled. Thomson Elementary's Teacher of the Year had already had one of the biggest days of her life: She had voted in her first presidential election.
Seymone is a native of Jamaica, moving to the United States when she was just a child and finally ending up in Augusta -- where she graduated from AR Johnson High School and Augusta State University.
Soon after she started teaching at TES in 2002, she approached Principal Donald Davis and asked for a day off, something that she would need a good reason to get. She had one: Seymone was heading to Atlanta to take the oath to become an American citizen.
Tuesday, she exercised that citizenship by letting her voice be heard and selecting our local, state and national leadership. But it is every day that she does something just as crucial to America: she molds the future leaders of the world in the classroom.
Tuesday also provided an example of the dark side of democracy. Just a few miles down Interstate 20, Augusta voters overwhelmingly elected Charles Walker to represent them in the state senate.
I just have to wonder what were these people thinking? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear you -- innocent until proven guilty, it's a conspiracy and all that jazz. Here's one for you: Let's keep the fox out of the henhouse. And while we're beating clichÈs to death, will someone please shut the barn door, now that the horse's posterior has escaped?
Charles Walker is a man who has built an empire on the backs of state taxpayers. He's been fined for gross ethics violations while in the General Assembly, and he's currently under a huge federal indictment. (On the subject of the federal indictment, a one-count indictment could be disputed. Even 30 or 40 counts may be questionable. But 142 counts?!)
And here's the most stunning part: When January rolls around, Mr. Walker probably won't even be allowed to take office. Congratulations District 22 voters, you now have no voice in Atlanta.
This is not about race. This is not about liking Charles Walker or liking Don Cheeks.
This is about right and wrong. This is about representation. This is about common sense.
Apparently, none of that means much a couple of counties over.