By Anne Haw Holt
Monticello News like most newspapers, publishes stories about heroes. These stories are often on the front page above the fold to attract attention. They recently published the story of a great, talented baseball player from Perry, Florida who helped win the World Series.
In the same issue, the News told the story of Marine “Boots” Thomas, a Monticello/Jefferson County Florida “hometown” hero who helped raise the first American flag on the far-off island of Iwo Jima. Thomas later died fighting the enemy on that battlefield. The story explained the re-dedication of Thomas’ remembrance plaque and the tribute to his heroism by the Fifth Division of the United States Marines. Along with explaining the dedication activities the newspaper quoted comments made in the ceremony by Boots Thomas’ friend and a special kind of hero who lives right here in Monticello.
Dr. Sledge has enjoyed a productive life and made a contribution to society as many will, but his long life is different. He has told Boot’s Thomas’ story at every opportunity for more than seventy years. His lifetime of steadfast determination to make sure his friend and his friend’s story are remembered is not only exemplary but extraordinary. It is heroic.
Sledge is heroic in the quiet way many people are, without fanfare or notice. The way a father brings home his paycheck every week for a lifetime without complaint, although he may well be completely bored with his job. The way a mother, no matter how tired she may be, makes sure her children are safely asleep before she closes her eyes. It is a heroism that is woven into his everyday life.
I have lots of lovely friends, and I’m sure you do also. We even have some truly close friends. I am certain they will, at times, remember us fondly—(maybe fondly). Will one of them – could one of them — remember and make sure others remember you or me and our lives for more than seventy years?
We should all hope for one friend such as Dr. Jim Sledge. He is a true home-town hero.