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SC Market Bulletin, July 15, 2006


South Carolina Agriculture Salutes the Armed Forces at Memorial Day Observance

Hugh E. Weathers, Commissioner

The May 29th Ft. Jackson Memorial Day observance was one of the most touching experiences that I have ever had. Ronnie Summers, President of SC Advocates for Agriculture, and I were honored to be a part of the occasion. Ronnie presented a check for $5,000 to David Coker, Executive Director and Vice President of Operations of Fisher House Foundation on behalf of the Advocates for Agriculture. Those of you who purchased our Heart of Agriculture note cards produced from the Department's Art and Agriculture Watercolor Collection made it possible to provide this contribution to assist the Fisher House Foundation.

Fisher House does a lot of great things for our military, but they also build comfort homes on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers around the world. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times - during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury. There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center to assist the families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment. David said that the $5,000 we contributed would cover the cost of caring for a family at a Fisher House every day for a year. That's truly significant!

After our presentation, Col. Thomas Hayden, Ft. Jackson deputy commanding officer, addressed the crowd. Soldiers in period uniform from the Army's campaigns, beginning with the Revolutionary War to the current War in Iraq, came forward one-by-one and the number of soldiers killed during each campaign was announced. Instructors from the Drill Sergeant School raised the American Flag and a 21-gun salute sounded in the distance to honor America's fallen heroes while soldiers in training stood at attention. It was awe-inspiring.

While on that Memorial Day we remembered those who lost their lives in service to our country, it was also fitting that we remembered those who are continuing to serve. The sacrifices and service of our men and women in the Armed Forces is a reminder that freedom isn't free. Never has been. Never will be.

Before the event, an impressive young man, Walt Cartin, came forth to greet David Coker. He now serves as special assistant to Congressman Joe Wilson. Wearing a Fisher House pin, he said to David, "Mr. Coker, it's an honor to see you. I know first-hand about Fisher House. When I was wounded in Iraq my family was able to come and stay at a Fisher House. It was very comforting to me."

Also, one of the board members of Advocates for Agriculture, Cullen Bryant of Dillon who is also Past Chairman of the SC Soybean Board, said that Leon Snipes, a young man from Dillon County, was seriously wounded in Iraq. He was with the CBS crew that was attacked on Memorial Day. Leon's first sergeant called his wife who is expecting their first child to let her know of his situation. The sergeant said that Leon would be taken to the medical facility at Ft. Hood in Texas for further surgery. Cullen provided Mrs. Snipes with a contact for Fisher House which is providing lodging for her near the medical facility. He is also working with the family on additional financial assistance for transportation and any other expenses that the military doesn't cover. If you want to help Cullen in this effort, call him at 843-845-1316.

Until this project, I knew nothing about Fisher House Foundation. But, there are so many stories out there about the successes of Fisher House, I cannot count them all. I am just so proud that we were able to be a part of this effort. Advocates for Agriculture hopes to continue to sell the note cards for Fisher House. It's our small way of doing something to help those who protect us.

To help keep this effort going forward, send a check or money order for $5 for each set of 12 note cards and envelopes depicting barns in the state payable to the South Carolina Advocates for Agriculture and mail to: Reggie Hall, PO Box 754, Columbia, SC 29202. For more information about Fisher House, visit www.fisherhouse.org. And, on behalf of soldiers like Walt and Leon and their families, thank you for helping us help them.



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