George’s speech was best

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 22, 2011

In a week full of speeches, my favorite one came from a rather unexpected source.

Robert Bentley’s inaugural address wasn’t memorable, but within two hours after taking the oath of office, his talk at an MLK memorial event at the King Memorial Dexter Avenue Baptist Church went on to make national headlines.

Siran Stacy gave quite the speech at the Chamber banquet Tuesday night. Walt Merrell gave a nice talk after taking the oath of office as Covington County’s DA Tuesday morning.

But it was his father-in-law, George Gantt, who was my favorite.

George was called on to close the swearing-in ceremony with a prayer. He got his two cents’ worth in first.

“I’m reminded of that movie, Forrest Gump,” George said, going on to describe the scene in which Forrest’s friend, Jenny, is screaming “Run, Forrest, run.” The young Gump runs faster and faster at her encouragement, escaping both the bullies who chased him and the leg braces he wore.

“He was running because the buggers were after him,” George said.

“A few months ago, a lot of people were encouraging this boy to run,” he said, indicating his son-in-law and referring to a political race. “Don’t stop.”

George’s point was this: Just because the race is over doesn’t mean the encouragement should stop. With the hard work ahead, now he needs support more than ever.

“He’s not gonna make you happy all the time,” George said. “He doesn’t make his wife happy all the time; doesn’t make me happy all the time. Big Momma back there, she’s not always happy with him.”

(I couldn’t help thinking it was George with whom Miss Brenda, a.k.a. ‘Big Momma,’ might not be happy at that moment.)

“He’s going to do some things that make you real happy and some that don’t,” George said. “But we’ve still got to support him.”

He made an excellent point, and one that shouldn’t be applied to just his son-in-law.

I’ve always been amazed at how quickly support sometimes turns sour once a candidate becomes an elected official. Among some, there’s sort of a ‘kill the ref’ mentality, i.e. if they’re “official,” they’re not to be trusted, liked, respected … pick a word, but you’ve seen it, too.

Before Gov. Bentley made the gaffe about his brothers and sisters in Christ Tuesday, he said he’s now the governor of all Alabamians – Republican and Democrat; black and white; rich and poor. Whether he was your candidate or not, he’s the governor now, and for Alabama’s sake, we should all hope he’ll be the most successful governor ever.

The same could be said for all of our elected officials. If each of them follow Dr. Bentley’s lead and work for the betterment of all the state, all of us benefit.

Run Forrest, run.