Martin Luther King Jr.: Men we need more of today

By BY MARK H. STOWERS COLUMNIST,

Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!

I was only four when Martin Luther King Jr’s life ended. I can’t imagine living the life he lived for the 39 years he walked the earth.

Accomplishing so much in less than four decades of life against so many odds. Jesus walked the earth for 33 years and MLK Jr was a preacher with a deep devotion to his God and ministry.

We celebrate his birthday and his life and his life changing accomplishments each year. And each year my admiration grows for him. He was  what most folks might call “a real man.”

But it got me to thinking. Who are the real men today?

The 1960s and 70s were replete with real men like Neil Armstrong, Bill Russell, Vince Lombardi and countless others. Men who plowed their own path based on their deeply rooted foundations.

They went to the moon, they broke barriers, they have trophies named after them. Archie Manning came of age in the midst of this era. Our own Sunflower County towns were filled with real men who led, real men who got things done.

I think of the late cropduster and former Inverness Mayor Bill Lang. A lanky Rebel who once buzzed the Oxford campus I’m told and later took care of dozens of farmers’ needs.

I think of Dr. A.M. Phillips in Moorhead who was stern yet effective in his medical practice.

I think of countless men who worked from dawn till dusk creating things with their hands and tending to thousands of acres of crops that fed their families and supplied the world with food and clothing.

I think of the late Sheriff Jack Sessums whom I didn’t know but certainly knew who he was and I walked a very straight line while growing up knowing he was in charge of the county.

I think of former E-T editor Jim Abbott who took on issues and news throughout the county for decades.

The color-blind newsman found stories, exposed us all to heroes like former Gentry and Ole Miss basketball player Coolidge Ball and many others in these pages.

I think of the late Inverness resident Red Bell who creatively met farmer’s needs in building from scratch farm implements at Bell Incorporated that made their jobs easier. He would spend hours on his Ham radio talking to people around the world and communicating important information to authorities during disasters and such.

Now this list could go on for pages with great men from every city and town in our wonderful county. Who are today’s “real men?” I think of Sunflower County Deputy Woody Spencer who tirelessly patrols the county roads and highways keeping everyone safe. I think of my boss here, Bryan Davis who’s walking in the same shoes that Abbott did and seems to be cut from the same cloth.

I think of Moorhead Mayor George Holland who came “home” after his career in the automotive business to tend to his homeland and tackle problems with viable solutions. I think of Stafford Shurden in Drew whose entrepreneurial spirit continues to inspire those around him to pull themselves up and make something in their own dilapidated home towns.

He has breathed life into historic buildings, challenged those around him to join in all the while tending to his crops, feeding hundreds each week at his restaurant and these days making quite a tasty stir with his Gas Station Food reviews across the state.

Real men of Sunflower County continue to grow up and stay home and make a difference in a land that many have abandoned for greener pastures. For them I say, “thank you for your commitment and service.” I thank them for continuing to make our county a place to call home. A place to come back to, a place to continue living and make better.

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