Avenue of Flags at State Capitol

 

Photo: The State Capitol and the Avenue of Flags.
Photo: Fred Marshall

By FRED MARSHALL

Independent Contributor
     I have always felt that one of the prettiest sights in Alabama is the south lawn on the State Capitol grounds in Montgomery, especially on a sunny, breezy day!  To those of us who live in Montgomery, it’s easy to take it all for granted, much like those who live in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach may take the beach for granted.  It’s easy to fall into that trap.  Visitors from afar, however, may see things differently.  Travelers naturally take photos of the front of our historic State Capitol building, but just as many are drawn to the south side, and the beautiful, Avenue of Flags.
     The Avenue of Flags Complex consists of the circular driveway approaching the Capitol, the flags of the 50 states lining the driveway.  But let’s slow-down a second.  What we see today as the Avenue of Flags had its genesis many years ago.  After World War One ended, a Memorial to Alabama soldiers killed in the war was dedicated on April 6, 1918, after a parade through downtown Montgomery by 30,000 predominately Ohio troops stationed at nearby Camp Sheridan.  The original, single flag pole that was erected on the south lawn was purchased with the contributions from the school children of Alabama.
     A half-century later, it was decided to add the flags of all 50 states, and a rock or stone native to each state that would form the base of each state’s flag pole.  Those flags today comprise the Avenue of Flags.  These various flags give added significance to the original single flag pole memorial to the heroes from Alabama who, along with patriots from other states, have paid the supreme sacrifice in defense of our country.  Incidentally, these flag poles are made of aluminum produced in Sheffield, Alabama, where the first Reynolds Aluminum was made, May 18, 1941.  The Avenue of Flags was erected in February and March and dedicated in May of 1969 during the celebration of Alabama’s 150th Birthday.
     Visitors to the Avenue Complex will find other subjects of interest.  Among them a bust of Senator Joseph Lister Hill (1894-1984), longtime U.S. Senator from Alabama.  Senator Hill was named after Joseph Lister, the British scientist who originated antiseptic surgery.  Hill always championed the field of health science, and the Lister Hill Library of Health Sciences is named for him at the University of Alabama (Birmingham).  It is said that the Senator did more for public health than any American in history.
     Also in the Avenue Complex is Alabama’s reproduction Liberty Bell.  The bronze bell was manufactured by the Paccard Bell Foundry in France in 1950.  It was one of 50 such bells produced by Paccard in an order placed by the U.S. Treasury in a 1950’s Savings Bond drive.  Each state received a bell, and Alabama’s bell is number 38 of 50.  It is an exact reproduction of the original Liberty Bell produced by Pass and Stow in Philadelphia and bears the inscription:  “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All The Land Unto All The Inhabitants Thereof.  Lev. XXV X.”
     Located out on the lawn is the “Duty Called” Law Enforcement Memorial sculpted by German-born, Birmingham sculptor Branko Medenica.  One of his latest works is “A Celebration of Reading” located on Courthouse Square in Monroeville, Alabama. “Duty Called” bears the inscription: Greater Love Hath No Man Than This:  “That He Gives His Life To Save A Friend.”  Law Enforcement Officers Do Even More.  Sometimes They Give Their Lives To Save A Stranger.  “Duty Called” was erected by the Alabama State Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police on May 9, 1986.
     So don’t take these things for granted anymore.  Stop-by, and take your children and grand children.  Tell ’em what you know about the Avenue of Flags Complex.  If you are new to Montgomery or just passing-through, visit the Avenue of Flags Complex, and take your camera.  Montgomery is proud of what you’ll see there.

Physician Groups issue joint statement in support of raising Alabama’s legal tobacco age to 21

 The Medical Association of the State of Alabama, the Alabama Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Cardiology-Alabama Chapter, the Alabama Dermatology Society, and the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians have joined in support of legislation that would raise Alabama’s legal tobacco age from 19 to 21.
      “Research has shown our children are at the greatest risk of becoming smokers because they begin to experiment with cigarettes around the age of 18,” said Medical Association President Jerry Harrison, M.D. “Smoking remains one of the most preventable causes of heart disease by making the heart work harder and raising the blood pressure, which can trigger a stroke. So, raising Alabama’s legal tobacco age limit by a couple of years in order to add years to our children’s lives only makes sense.”
      A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics showed raising the minimum tobacco purchase age to 21 would likely have significant public health benefits, including 249,000 fewer premature deaths and 45,000 fewer lung cancer deaths for those born between 2010 and 2019. The study also showed that younger adolescents were more likely to support the initiative, and past research has shown that up to 75 percent of adults favor the higher purchase age for tobacco products.
      “This legislation is one of the most effective actions Alabama can make to ensure the health and safety of our children,” said Susan Walley, M.D., FAAP, member of the AL-AAP Executive Board and the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Tobacco Control. “Any tobacco use in children and adolescents is not safe. Adolescents are more likely to become addicted to nicotine, even with experimental use, which has a ‘gateway effect’ to other substances of abuse. Once adolescents start using tobacco products, whether from electronic cigarettes or traditional combustible cigarettes or cigars, they risk a lifelong habit that kills one-in-three smokers from a multitude of diseases.”
       According to the Alabama Dermatology Society, smoking is bad for the skin in multiple ways – ill effects that can begin in the teenage years. In addition to causing premature skin aging and wrinkles, smoking nearly doubles one’s risk of developing psoriasis. Even more worrisome, studies show smokers boost their risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma of the skin by 52 percent. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer, and, while often treatable, can have deadly consequences.
       A bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) – HB 47 – would raise the age from 19 to 21 for anyone in Alabama looking to purchase, use, or possess tobacco products in Alabama. This proposed legislation includes any tobacco, tobacco product or alternative nicotine product. Our organizations fully support the passage of this legislation for the lives of Alabama’s children.

Montgomery Sunrise Rotary gives $20,000 to local charities

 At its special February 2 meeting, the Montgomery Sunrise Rotary Club featured representatives from charities to benefit from the club’s annual Commitment to Service Award Charity Gala on March 2, 2018. Jimmy Hill of the Montgomery Sunrise Foundation presented checks to Karlyn Edmonds and Melinda Stallworth of the Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, Gilbert Darrington and Ebony Evans of Health Services, Inc., and Justin Hampton and Bryan Kelly of Common Ground Montgomery.
      The Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, which seeks to instill into girls self-confidence, patriotism, and leadership skills, will use the $5000 grant to completely renovate a bathhouse at Camp Kiwanis on Lake Martin.
      Health Services, Inc. operates clinics and wellness centers in the River Region for patients who would otherwise not have access to healthcare. With its award of $5000, the organization will improve its facility in an underserved area of Ramer, Alabama.
     Common Cause was established in the Washington Park neighborhood of Montgomery to mentor and develop urban youth facing the challenges of low-income communities. The organization will use Sunrise Rotary’s award of $10,000 to build bunkhouses to house volunteers who will serve in its first affiliate, Common Ground Shoals, in Florence, Alabama.
     Each year Montgomery Sunrise Rotary recognizes an individual for service to the Montgomery River Region. This year’s honoree will be retired Circuit Judge Charles Price. Judge Price has had a long career of public service, as an Army paratrooper, Alabama assistant attorney general, district attorney for Montgomery Country, Montgomery municipal judge, and circuit judge for Montgomery County. He has recently become Chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.
     “The MSRC is not only proud to honor Judge Price for his community service, but equally proud to financially support three outstanding community organizations” said Jimmy Hill, president of Montgomery Sunrise Rotary. “The positive impact that Common Ground Montgomery, the Girl Scouts, and Health Services, Inc. have on people in Montgomery and across our River Region not only improves lives individually, it makes our community a better place to live, work and serve. We are honored to support each organization and their mission”.
     The Montgomery Sunrise Rotary’s fourteenth annual Commitment to Service Award Charity Gala will be on March 2, 2018 at the RSA Activity Center. A silent auction will precede dinner and presentation of the award to Judge Price.
       For more information, contact Jimmy Hill at jhill@rruw.org or (334) 399-4866.