Not just a statesman

Not just a statesman
I regret that I don't have room to share an e-mail that I received from Edis Anderson Thursday morning in its entirety. These highlights, however, are worth noting.

About a year ago, as a "Big Friend-Little Friend" Edis started volunteering at Jolley School in Mrs. Cusick's third-grade classroom.

"That experience soon became the highlight of my week," she writes. "Each time that I came, Mrs. Cusick and the students made me feel so important and expressed their appreciation in such beautiful ways. I wanted to find some way to express my appreciation for them, too. I thought about it a lot, but I couldn't come up with anything."

One Friday morning, as Edis approached the school, she noticed Mrs. Cusick's students were outside, raising the American flag. They worked in precision, as a team, carefully unfolding the flag, attaching it to the rope, and hoisting it to the top of the flagpole.

"That scene gave me an idea! Why not a flag? A flag that was certified to have been flown over our nation's Capitol," Edis writes.

Sen. Tim Johnson and his staff, she notes in her e-mail, went to great lengths to try to obtain such a flag for Jolley Elementary by the end of the school year last May.

Those efforts were unsuccessful, however. At that time, no flags were available in on Capitol Hill.

Turns out these events were a blessing in disguise to local students. The senator's staff was able to obtain a flag last fall.

And, Edis notes, Johnson himself was willing to make special, perhaps conflicting, arrangements in order to accommodate her rather far out request in order to be present at Jolley School, personally on election day last November and present the flag to the students at a special assembly.

Perhaps the fibers with the very most strength are the fibers of character that are being woven into our flag, right now, she writes.

"It is truly most reassuring to me to observe the energetic fibers being woven into the fabric of our nation by Mrs. Cusick's third-grade students. With respect for others, appreciation, enthusiasm, creativity and humor, they learn so much, so quickly.

"At Jolley School, however, it's not just the fibers of the third graders that are continuously being added to the loom, but the commendable characteristics of the whole Jolley School staff," Edis writes. "To me, the strength of the fabric of America's composite tapestry is accurately demonstrated as I watch Jolley School students move in the hallways with purpose and with smiles on their faces."

She is especially happy that Sen. Johnson was able to attend Mrs. Cusick's third-grade class's original and meaningfully patriotic assembly.

Our senior senator has shown time and again that he's an effective statesmen for our state.

He's also demonstrated, however, that he's more than that. Third-graders certainly can't vote for him, but he still cares deeply for them.

After all these years of public service, he really has remained one of us. It's only fitting that all South Dakotans, no matter your political persuasion, wish him and his family the best in these trying times.

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