I spent part of a Wednesday afternoon a few weeks ago tying a few yellow ribbons along Washington Road in preparation for the arrival of a junior soldier.
They were only supposed to be part of the "Welcome Home' celebration for Ethan Hobbs.
Who knew those ribbons would have such a special significance two weeks later?
I didn't know Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry Wilson. He's been gone from Thomson and serving his country since I was just three years old.
But none of that mattered while I was sitting in Springfield Baptist Church Thanksgiving Day.
It didn't take long for anyone there to understand Command what Sgt. Wilson meant to his family and those that watched him grow up in the classrooms, choir loft and congregation of Springfield Baptist. The people that described the fallen soldier were different but their words were the same.
Humble. Well-mannered. Godly. Quiet. Unselfish. Caring. Courageous.
Some were said with tears. Some flowed from a smile. But each was heartfelt.
I've been fortunate - most of my generation has actually. I've never been called to military service and it doesn't look like I'll ever walk into battle. My grandfather had to fight for his country and did so with honor. So did my father. And neither one would ever brag or flaunt their service.
From all reports, that's the kind of soldier Jerry Wilson was. A quiet soldier. A natural leader on the battlefield and off. A Screaming Eagle who had no interest in screaming and focused everything on protecting the American Eagle.
Thomson, McDuffie County and everyone who's ever heard of Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry Wilson should be proud of him. But no one deserves more credit than Miss Daisy - a soldier's mother, a mourning matriarch, a hero in her own right.
All of them - the veterans who risk their lives to keep America free and the families that wait at home for them - deserve our thanks and it shouldn't take tragedies that hit home to remind us of their service.
Now for a couple of personal notes.
First, I want to thank everyone who voted for me as a board member for the Thomson-McDuffie County Chamber of Commerce. Now, I've got a month or so before my term actually starts to figure out a way out of it.
Seriously, I am again humbled by my hometown community. Thomson and McDuffie County never cease to surprise me.
Secondly, don't forget you don't have any plans this weekend that will take you out of downtown Thomson. (OK, so there's a Georgia game Saturday night. We were kind enough to leave that evening open.)
Christmas off Main Street is the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people. I admit I'm a little biased - The McDuffie Mirror is the main sponsor of Saturday's events - but this has the makings of a wonderful weekend.
Come out Friday night, shop, listen to the kids sing and watch the trees light up. Come back Saturday for the Depot Dash - I'm still walking in it, oxygen tank or not - and the afternoon festival. Sunday is your chance to see Santa led by a Bulldog, Grand Marshal Luther Welsh.
And somewhere along the way, may you catch the Christmas spirit.