Parade Still Worth The Effort
A week ago today, the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement held a brief rally on the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn. Cordoned well off from the two dozen neo-Nazis were several hundred protesters, ginned up with righteous indignation fueled by print, broadcast and social media.
To protect the protesters from those rallying, and vice versa, personnel from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and Chattanooga Police Department logged hundreds of hours of overtime, costing slightly in excess of $23,000.
On Friday, the 65th annual Armed Forced Day parade stepped off at 10:30 a.m. and continued for approximately 45 minutes. Nearly 1,000 ROTC cadets from 10 Hamilton County programs and two Georgia schools took part. The country's military branches were represented. Flags waved. Children smiled. Veterans saluted.
To provide a route for the parade, largely Chattanooga Police Department personnel -- with the help of some Hamilton County Sheriff's Office units already on duty -- shut down streets and kept those who watched on the sidewalk. Any overtime cost for members of both departments had not been calculated by press time.
Could money have been saved last weekend if there had not been so much ginned-up hate for the neo-Nazis? After all, if a National Social Movement member speaks on the courthouse lawn and no one is around to hear it, does the member really make a sound?
It stands to reason the fewer protesters, the less police presence needed. This has been the standard when hate groups have come to town over the last 20 years. Ignore them, and the ignorant depart without their word getting out to anyone and without a larger expense to taxpayers.
But what's done is done. No city or county official would dare -- or should dare -- say they would spend a penny less to keep people safe. But maybe it's a lesson for next time.
The parade, meanwhile, was once an event where schools closed, thousands and thousands of people filled blocks to watch, elaborate floats were put together and bands learned patriotic music to honor America's fighting forces. Today, it's a much smaller annual exercise with much less fanfare which only hundreds attend but which nevertheless honors the country's active-duty personnel.
Some have maintained the parade should no longer be held because it glorifies war. But thankfully more people still see it as an opportunity to thank representatives of the men and women who keep us safe.
Opportunities such as the annual parade, for instance, have allowed people to take a second look at the Vietnam War veterans who were derided, spat upon and protested against by hundreds of thousands in the late 1960s and early 1970s. When they do take that second look, they find these veterans, now grandparents ranging in age from about 60 to their 80s, were just people doing their job, answering their nation's call to service.
The same is true for veterans of the Iraqi conflicts first in 1990-1991 and then in the 2000s and the Afghanistan conflict from 2001 to present. The veterans and active service personnel from those wars deserve our thanks for putting their lives on the line so we can live in freedom.
New Life For Tennessee Temple
The small Christian university may never return to its halcyon days of the late 1970s, when enrollment reached beyond 4,000, when the school's conservatism exceeded the conservatism of soon-to-be-president Ronald Reagan and when crowds stood and basketball games stopped when school founder Lee Roberson entered the gymnasium, but Tennessee Temple University may have found new life with official approval to share space with Woodland Park Baptist Church in Tyner.
The church, which bought property near the corner of Standifer Gap and Hickory Valley roads in 1991 but didn't build on it until the early 2000s, had been unable to finish out the inside of its large complex. The school, meanwhile, had dropped in enrollment, become landlocked in Highland Park and lost its former Highland Park Baptist Church partner.
A marriage between the two will give the church money to finish its property and allow the school to use the finished facilities and expand on the 160 acres the church owns there. In sum, it offers Tennessee Temple University a chance to continue the renaissance it has experienced under President Steve Echols.
The City Council has to sign off on the project, architect plans have to be finalized and TTU's property has to be sold, but signs appear positive for TTU to begin its 2015-2016 school year on the site.
Both parties, for all they've contributed to the Chattanooga community over the years, deserve a long and happy marriage.