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Community celebrates inauguration

More than 100 people from various churches throughout the Thomson area attended a drop-in celebration at the Depot in downtown Thomson to commemorate the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

A candlelight vigil was held on the lawn of the McDuffie County Courthouse later that night, which was led by the Rev. Frederick Favors, pastor of Springfield Baptist Church. Rev. Favors said the vigil was a time to bring the community together to pray for our nation and its leaders.

"We have witnessed a big part of the fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King's dream," the Rev. Favors told The McDuffie Mirror. "He was a true servant and a prophet."

His comments about Dr. King came just a day after the slain civil rights leader was honored with a national holiday and more than 40 years after Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C.

"Today is a great day of coming together with President Obama taking his oath of office," the Rev. Favors said. "We need to work together as brothers and sisters for a common cause across this great land of ours. Today is a new beginning for all of us. We can all help remake America."

Martha Teamer, of Thomson, described Tuesday as a phenomenal day in American history.

"Who would ever have thought this could happen in America - from slavery to where we are today swearing in a black man as president of the United States," Mrs. Teamer said. "I think people are beginning to get the message now that it takes all of us working together as Americans to help make America all it can be. I believe that's what it means when we hear the saying one nation under God."

McDuffie County Roads and Bridges Director Chris Pelly was another local resident who viewed the Internet coverage provided by CNN at the local depot.

Mr. Pelly, who lives in the Raysville Community, admitted that he didn't support Mr. Obama when he first started began running for president, because he didn't believe he had the experience.

His views since have changed.

"I think he's got a lot more on the ball than I first thought," Mr. Pelly said. "I think it's time we had a younger man serving as our president. He's got my full support, now."

Mr. Pelly said America has experienced many changes over the years. He feels a renewed American spirit with President Obama serving as the nation's new commander-in-chief.

"Our country has come a long way in terms of learning how to get along together as different races of people and learning how to love one another," Mr. Pelly added. "But I don't think we've met the end of the road. We still have a ways to travel."

Clemenette Bentley, of Thomson, described Tuesday as "an extraordinary day" in the lives of all Americans.

"This is a day I never thought I would witness in my lifetime," Ms. Bentley said. "I always thought it would happen one day that we would elect an African-American as president. I just never thought it would happen while I was still living."

Ms. Bentley said it is "great" to know that an African-American can now hold the highest office in America, because it helps send messages to youngsters that they can dream big, too, and maybe realize it someday just like Mr. Obama did.

Before he had served even a full-day in office, Ms. Bentley said, he already had made an enormous impact.

"He is like a God-sent person," she pointed out, noting that Dr. King would be most pleased if he still was alive. "Our new president fills a gap that has existed in the bridge far too long" when it comes to race relations."

Dale Parham, a retired mortgage loan officer, who moved from Macon to Thomson last September, said Tuesday was a great day for all Americans - all races of people.

"There's a new sense of unity in America now that President Obama has taken office," Mr. Parham said. "It's a call for all of us to search our hearts and ask ourselves what we can do to turn a new page. Today (Tuesday) was a down payment on what lies ahead. We need to work and like President Obama said - brush the dust off and move forward."

Mr. Parham, who is an active member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said he had personally shed many tears since Mr. Obama first was elected president.

"His becoming president means a great deal to me and represents the struggles of a lot of black Americans, as well as white Americans," Mr. Parham said.

Margie Bentley, a retired food services employee with the McDuffie County Board of Education, said of Tuesday's inauguration of President Obama: "It's a fabulous, glorious and blessed day in America. It's been a long time coming. And I'm so glad to see this change."

Mrs. Bentley said if Dr. King still was alive, "I believe he would say as he fore-stated in one of his speeches about traveling to the promise land - that he had looked over the mountain and seen the promise land. Dr. King said he might not get there with us, but we would get to the promise land someday. I think that day has arrived."

Web posted on Thursday, January 22, 2009

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