by Michael G. Maness
Tyler County's First Responders were honored with a banquet hosted by the Woodville United Methodist Church Men's Breakfast Group on Saturday evening, May 29, in the WUMC's Wesley Center.
The group's president, Woodville Mayor Russ Nalley, said they wanted to honor those who risk their lives to help us. This second annual banquet drew about 50 from a variety of services including the Tyler County Sheriff's Office, Woodville Police Department and several of the local volunteer fire departments.
James Overstreet smoked ten briskets on his home pit. Ofeira Gazzaway, director of the Heritage Village, provided the potato salad. About 20 men from the men's group and several of their wives helped prepare all the fixings and patriotic decorations.
Nalley welcomed all and pointed to two banners on the wall. One was a rendition of the U.S. flag in black and white with one center stripe in dark blue—the thin blue line. "All lives matter," said Nalley, "Yet Blue lives also matter." Nalley included all the first responders under that banner, for all in their varied roles put their lives on the line to help save us from crime and in emergencies. Then he pointed to the second banner that spoke for itself, "Thank You First Responders, Our Heroes," Nalley noting that all of them there and those still on patrol were "Our Heroes."
WUMC pastor Amanda Davis welcomed all, expressed her thanks for the sacrifice the responders give and welcomed any to their church who would like a place to worship.
Nalley invited Tyler County judge Jacques Blanchette to say a few words and lead the invocation. Blanchette resonated the county's thanks to all the first responders and gave a thanks to the Methodist men for hosting, then he led all in a prayer.
Entertainment came live from Carley Smith, daughter of Rodney and Stephanie Smith, a high school senior looking to attend North Texas. She sang three songs, "Oh Beautiful," "Rainy Days and Mondays," and Lee Greenwood's patriotic hit "God Bless the USA." The last raising all to their feet, some thrusting a hand in the air, the feeling true, "Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land; God bless the USA!"
After most of the first responders filed through for a prepared dish of delectable smoked brisket and trimmings, one sheriff's deputy arrived and was given a box of to-go plates for those officers and responders still on patrol.
The WUMC's Men's Breakfast Group meets every third Tuesday morning for breakfast and is open to Christian men of all denominations see WoodvilleUMC.com. The group does service projects for the church and other members and non-members in need in the community. After breakfast, they have a brief devotion and prayer.