An incentive to achieve

Published 2:19 pm Monday, January 2, 2017

On the day of the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I met a most interesting member of the military while I was in Brookhaven.

I had entered Cracker Barrel for a meal and spied Sgt. 1st Class Tim Harper in uniform and stepped over to thank him for his services.

He had just been to the funeral of Navy Fireman 1st Class Jim H. Johnston  in Wesson.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

He and I became immediate friends by sharing experiences we had abroad in Iraq on tours and hence this narrative today as he shared with me at length his reasons for being in Lincoln County.

Sgt. Harper is a paid instructor at Copiah-Lincoln Community College for the G.O.L.D. program, a Mississippi Guard project to engage military signees into pursuing military greatness and going on to be an officer.

Guard Officer Leadership Development is a unique way to help prospective soldiers make the military a career.

Students go through some basic training exercises much like boot camp but most of the courses are conducted in a class room.

Harper lives in Brandon and makes the drive to Brookhaven to teach, but is trying to relocate to Lincoln County.

He said the most common problem his students battle is the overwhelming fear of not being adequate and up to the task of the rigid requirements of being an officer in the armed forces.

His job includes helping those young folks push past those fears and accept the challenge to achieve.

Is that not what we all need as we head into the unchartered waters of 2017?

We have a new president-elect and with that comes a lot of unanswered questions.

None of us are getting any younger either, and many of us have issues to deal with, be it sickness, financial, or other difficulties.

The easy way out is to just back off and cease trying to overcome any of it.

But, like Harper does every school day at Co-Lin, we need to man up to what we face and what is gained by pressing on.

Triumph has been defined as just trying with some umph!

While I type I am thinking of a church friend in Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, who due to a combination of diabetes and cancer, has had his right leg amputated above his knee.

It would be easy for Ed Phelps to just give in and say what’s the use of fighting for quality of life or why me?

Yet, this Korean War vet refuses to pine away. He is all smiles when you approach him, as though he has never been sick a day in his life.

So many of us are guilty of retreating to our pity parties.

The one thing I have found about pity parties is no one likes to come to mine, so I quit having them due to a lack of interest.

My hat is off to Sgt. Tim Harper for his desire to help groom future leaders of our freedom fighters.

Oh, by the way, I had tried to pay for his meal but he had already had the payment at the checkout processed and thanked me for my effort.

He said that happens every time he wears his uniform out in public here in Brookhaven more so than any other place he has ever been.

Seldom ever does he have to pay for a meal in this fair city that the community’s generosity and concern for others is on of the reason he wants his family to live here.

I could not agree with him more.

God bless you and God bless America.

Mike Dykes is a pastor and story teller. He can be reached at